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Karen Joy Fowler


Junius Brutus Booth, a well-known Shakespearean actor, moves his family from England to the United States, where he continues his distinctive career. While he tours the country, his family stays on a farm in Maryland, where his ten children are born. When the children grow up, his sons dream of rivalling their father in an acting career, with varying success. The most ambitious son is the penultimate child, John Wilkes. After moving to Baltimore in the 1850s, the family witnesses the political conflicts surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s election to presidential office and the related issues of state supremacy versus federal law, and slavery. The family is only marginally involved and none of the sons does military service in the civil war. But after the war, when life appears to return to normal, John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln in the theatre. This event devastates the entire family: successful actor Edwin Booth has to go to England to continue his career, while Joe Booth and his brother-in-law are arrested and imprisoned as presumed accomplices in the assassination, John Wilkes Booth is killed while being pursued by the police, and the rest of the family is forced to keep a very low profile, with some of them feeling obliged to change their names.

A moving novel focusing on the Booth family members against the background of developments in their conflict-torn country.


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