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March 2022 Indie Next List
“The Booth family dominated 19th century American stages, but are known for the despicable actions of John Wilkes. Their saga, told by Karen Joy Fowler, mirrors the disintegration of their society and offers a cautionary tale for ours.”
— Bill Cusumano , Square Books, Oxford, MS
Best Book of the Year Real Simple • AARP • USA Today • NPR • Virginia Living
Longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize
From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic and intimate novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.
In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.
As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.
Booth is a startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of the ties that make, and break, a family.
About the Author
Karen Joy Fowler is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.