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This book is a wonderful story about a woman misunderstood during her lifetime. Mary Todd was born into the elite Kentucky political aristocracy of the 1800’s. In fact, the Great Compromiser Henry Clay was her neighbor. She absorbed political dialogue from a lot of the bigwig politicians of the time. She was also well educated and devoured books. By the time she matured into womanhood she was a garrulous interesting conversationalist. She had many suitors. However, it was a very tall, straggly looking man who caught her attention. She always claimed that she would marry a president. When she met Abraham Lincoln very few knew that he would become our second greatest president. She however knew there was something special in this odd looking man.A little tidbit about why Abraham Lincoln grew a beard. An 11 year old girl wrote him a letter containing the below:“I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”When he won the presidency Mary certainly had ideas on what the first lady should be doing. She refurbished the White House and went on spending sprees thus racking up enough debt to cause the President some embarrassment. She threw gallant dinners and elegant balls where she impressed the guests with her flirtacous manners. She also had tremendous mood swings and often offended some of President Lincoln’s most important allies. She was also very kind. She tended to wounded soldiers at hospitals.Their son Willie’s death in 1862 had a tremendous impact on the Lincolns. Abraham Lincoln also had recurring nightmares about his own death. Often times Mary would have fits while Abraham would lovingly comfort her best he could. What is very evident is that she loved Abraham Lincoln and he loved her.After the Civil War ended and Lincoln won reelection their lives seemed to be improving. On April 14, 1865 her husband was assassinated and her world was turned upside down. With one grown son, Robert, and one young son, Willie, she was a widow. It was not uncommon at the time to be a widow supporting a child but it was extraordinarily uncommon for such a powerful woman to drop out of such a position with a small child and no income.This is where the story gets sad. Lincoln had assets but they were tied up in court. Mary had no income. She sent letters to important people begging them to lobby Congress for a pension. At the same time she was being vilified in the newspapers. She was never quite trusted by the North and seen as a traitor by the South. Negative stories about her where circulated by the big yellow journalistic newspapers of the day. It was so bad that she left for Europe with her son Willie. She enjoyed Europe traveling and seeing the many attractions but she longed for the good old USA and came back.What she came back to was not so good. First, her son Tad died of heart failure. To make matters worse, there was an apparent attempt by her oldest son Robert to take control of the Lincoln estate which was just being disbursed of. Robert cleverly constructed a jury in charge of determining her sanity. She watched old friends testify about her mental stability. The jury agreed and she was sent to an asylum. It was short-lived but she held it against her son Robert for a long time.Things would get better for her though. She was cleared of insanity in a new trial. She also started receiving funds from the Lincoln estate and congress finally approved a pension for her. She died at the age of 64 in 1882, I believe a happy woman.

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