The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Mary, Mrs. A. Lincoln


This is the second time I have read Mary, Mrs. A. Lincoln (B+) by Janis Cooke Newman. I usually don’t enjoy re-reading any book but there is so much information in Mary that a second read was necessary so that I would be prepared for our book club discussion.

The story begins with Mary ‘s admittance to Bellevue Place a mental institution.  Her son Robert Todd Lincoln has had her declared insane. While Mary has suffered enough to make her a patient at Bellevue, she is hardly insane. She was heavily medicated after President Lincoln’s death to ease her grief.  She became delusional and suffered with hallucinations making it appear she was loosing her mind.

While a patient at Bellevue, she began to write her memoir.  She had hoped that once people read about her life they would come to understand her and be less judgmental. She especially hoped that Robert would read it.

Throughout her life Mary sought to be loved. The death of her mother greatly affected her. When her father remarried, she tried unsuccessfully to get love and attention from her stepmother. Her marriage to Abe, though loving, was devoid of passion.  It was Mr. Lincoln’s belief that succumbing to passion would lead to insanity. Mrs. Lincoln was a very passionate woman and struggled to contain herself. She longed for a child so that she could love freely and receive love in return. Her first son Robert was a most unaffectionate child and denied Mary the relationship she prayed for. She had three other sons, all who died in childhood, leaving her devastated. Of course, she was grief stricken after the assassination of her husband.

To relieve her stress, she shopped compulsively bringing debt and embarrassment to herself and her position.  Her actions so embarrassed her son Robert that he committed her to Bellevue with no intention of her ever being released.

Mary Lincoln is one of the most interesting women in history. She was complex and determined. She lost so much in her life and yet found strength to keep on going. It appears to me she was greatly misunderstood and definitely was made to suffer the most by the actions of her son Robert.

I hope that you all take the time to learn about Mary Lincoln through this amazing book. Though 700 pages long, it is a compelling read that moves along quickly. Newman is thorough in her research and talented in her writing making Mary, Mrs. A. Lincoln one you will not soon forget.






One response to “Mary, Mrs. A. Lincoln

  1. susanbright May 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Amazing how much more you get out of a book the second time around! Sounds like a fascinating read!

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