I attended an author event at Giuseppe’s Ritrovo in Bexley, Ohio last night. It was sponsored by Gramercy Books and featured Louis Bayard, the author of Courting Mr. Lincoln (amongst many other titles!) The event was called Prosecco and Prose and was very cozy…about 70 people attended and we were treated to hors d’oeuvres and wine while Bayard spoke about his book. Each attendee was also gifted a copy of the book and the author made himself available after the presentation for signing.
Bayard’s presentation was engaging and funny. He’s a handsome gentleman ‘of a certain age’ (His words, not mine!) He was placed in an awkward position in the room (patrons were on every side of him, including behind him) and he joked about trying to find a way to speak to us without putting his rear end in anyone’s face. He subsequently read three passages from his book. The prose that he shared was fantastic and the voices that he assumed for President and Mrs. Lincoln gave the listener insight into what the book sounds like in Bayard’s head.
The readings that Bayard chose were from the points of view of the three main characters of the book: not-yet-President Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and Joshua Speed (Lincoln’s friend and the potential 3rd leg in the love triangle that Bayard explores.) In his book, the author explores the rumors that have persisted about Mary Todd Lincoln (that she was severely depressed, crazy and unpleasant) as well as the popular characterizations of President Lincoln (that he was awkward, uncouth and unsuccessful with the ladies.)
Bayard also plumbs the topic of Lincoln’s relationship with Speed: the two men were extremely close friends and very intimate. Some have intimated that the relationship between Speed and Lincoln was more than platonic (Bayard referred to it as ‘lavender,’ which I thought was a terrific descriptor!)
Bayard admits that there are 9000 books about Lincoln and self-deprecatingly refers to his as the 9001st. Nonetheless, after hearing him discuss the approach he has taken to looking at Lincoln’s life, I believe the audience at Prose and Prosecco last night left with an excitement for reading more about Lincoln from an as-of-yet unexplored perspective! I’m looking forward to digging into Courting Mr. Lincoln and understanding how the tension between these three parties is ultimately resolved.
If you’d like a copy of Courting Mr. Lincoln, please click the link below:Courting Mr. Lincoln: A Novel