by Noella Noelophile®
Historically, inspired family man Henry Wadsworth Longfellow appears to have nothing in common with notorious assassin John Wilkes Booth.
But their common denominator: each intrigued gifted author Jennifer Chiaverini
For Christmas season 2016, I had the privilege of talking with Jennifer about her book Christmas Bells. Jennifer, who published Christmas Bells in 2015, tells a fantastic Christmas story that takes her readers back and forth in time. Paralleling Longfellow’s happy family life, and the inspiration for his beloved Christmas verse after tragedy struck, with a story set in modern-day Boston just before Christmas, she explores the frustrations, sorrow and joy that are part of loving someone–and life.
And at the time of our interview, Jennifer had just published Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him.
Today, Fates and Traitors comes out in paperback–and will make a great stocking stuffer for any history buff.
In a departure from her stories of more illustrious figures, Jennifer explores the life of one of the most hated men in history. She takes readers through the circumstances of Booth’s life, through the influence of four women in his life: his mother, Mary Ann Holmes; his fiancee, Lucy Lambert Hale; his sister, Asia Booth Clarke; and his landlady and co-conspirator, Mary Surratt. The story will rivet readers, due to Jennifer’s gift for getting inside the heads of her multidimensional characters. Readers will be wondering, along with Lucy, if John cares; with Asia, if her marriage has been a mistake; and with Mary Surratt, if amnesty will be granted.
Fates and Traitors brings up facts that our history classes somehow missed. (Who knew that the original plan wasn’t to assassinate Lincoln at all?) In doing so, it captures the sense of crossroads in life. Random chance plays a role: if seemingly-minor circumstances had occurred differently, history would have told some different stories.
Meanwhile, John emerges as an articulate charmer, with a gift for silver-tongued romance and a passion for his cause. While John Wilkes Booth never becomes a sympathetic figure, Fates and Traitors offers some perspective on his world, and his actions.
Meanwhile,, here’s some more good news. Jennifer has a new novel, Enchantress of Numbers, a Novel of Ada Lovelace, coming out on December 5th! This brand-new book tells the story of Ada Byron King, Lord Byron’s daughter, who was the world’s first computer programmer. Promotional material for the book mentions Ada’s “exceptional contributions to science and technology”–of which, I admit, I have been completely unaware!
I can’t wait to read this.