Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Review: The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham

From the celebrated author, Susan Higginbotham comes the incredible story of Lincoln's First Lady A Union's First Lady 

As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can't help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

 A Confederate Rebel's Wife Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband's southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best. With a country's legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?

Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Sourcebooks Landmark
eBook & Paperback; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

 Susan Higginbotham is an author I respect for the research in her historical novels. I’ve read a number of them and appreciate her attention to detail.

The First Lady and the Rebel is not just a story about sisters but of a country torn apart by war. It was informative on one hand and entertaining in the other. I learned a lot. I’ve read a number of books on Mary Todd Lincoln but not from her point of view, this was a nice change. While her character wasn’t as likable as her half-sister Emily I could still empathize with her bad decisions and heartache. I liked Emily and sensed her emotional conflict more.

The story is told with alternating POV’s, both Mary and Emily, which kept me on my toes. Beginning in 1939 and without saying when it ends this book does not shine on Abraham Lincoln, but rather on his wife and her struggles during the war, her grief and loss are profound and something I was not aware of. The Todd family in the South with its heartache as well is portrayed vividly. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for sisters to be in that situation.

I really enjoyed reading this book, thanks to Amy at HFVBT and the Publisher (via Netgalley) for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Author

Susan Higginbotham is the author of seven historical novels, including Hanging Mary, The Stolen Crown, and The Queen of Last Hopes. The Traitor’s Wife, her first novel, was the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and was a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book wards. She writes her own historical fiction blog, History Refreshed. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in Maryland with her family.

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During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The First Lady and the Rebel! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. The First Lady and the Rebel


  1. Thanks so much for hosting & reviewing THE FIRST LADY AND THE REBEL! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Hallo, Hallo,...

    I'm happy to finally visit with everyone on the tour - as I was curious if anyone felt more dearly connected to Emily vs Mary; thankfully you did! I concur with you about how emotionally I felt more moved by Emily's side of the story than Mary's - mostly, as Mary represented the known history we're always told and Emily gave us an insight into the portions of history which sometimes are hidden from view. I love reading Historical Fiction for that one reason - it allows us a more balanced viewing of History as it was lived. There are things still yet to learn and to understand.

    I wrote quite a bit about how Emily moved me as I read her story and what my takeaways about her life were as well.

    You'll find my thoughts for this novel over on my blog.