Monday, April 3, 2017

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders: A Review!

On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. 

Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.

U.S. Hardcover343 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Random House, ISBN  0812995341 

Willie Lincoln, 1862, Library of Congress

“(So why grieve? The worst of it, for him, is over.) Because I loved him so and am in the habit of loving him and that love must take the form of fussing and worry and doing. Only there is nothing left to do. Free” 
― George SaundersLincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln In The Bardo is filled with beautifully written ghostly dialogues between three central spirits who generally hang around the cemetery (mostly in the 'stone house' - the spirits word for mausoleum) where the newly passed eleven year old Willie Lincoln is being interred. He was the third born son to then President Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary Todd Lincoln who died on February 20, 1862.

President Lincoln paid several visits, within a forty-eight hour period,  to his son's 'stone-house' so he could be near him. George Saunders research states that President Lincoln opened his son's 'sick-box' (ghosts word for coffin) and touched his son's hair, prayed over him, and spoke to him. Saunders goes further with the emotions between father and son including ethereally written dialogues and thoughts from ghostly Willie's perspective.

There are so many moving scenes held within, Lincoln In The Bardo that I cannot go into much more detail. However, please understand that there are three characters, in the form of ghosts, providing various different story lines that reflect their lives before and leading up to their own deaths. So, be prepared to read more characters and stories besides President Lincoln and his son.  Don't worry there are many humorous scenes that made me laugh out loud. So, please don't think that this is a novel filled with death and sadness. On the contrary, George Saunders reflects a positive and nurturing side to such topics as:  illness, turmoil, tragedy, suffering, loss, and grief.

I will be sure to read everything else the author writes!

To purchase Lincoln In The Bardo in the United States, Amazon

To purchase Lincoln In The Bardo in the United Kingdom, Amazon UK

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