Jackie & Me


By Louis Bayard

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“ABSOLUTELY IRRESISTIBLE.” —People (Best Books of Summer)

One of The Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Fiction for 2022

In 1951, former debutante Jacqueline Bouvier is hard at work as the Inquiring Camera Girl for a Washington newspaper. Her mission in life is “not to be a housewife,” but when she meets the charismatic congressman Jack Kennedy at a Georgetown party, her resolution begins to falter. Soon the two are flirting over secret phone calls, cocktails, and dinner dates, and Jackie is drawn deeper into the Kennedy orbit. As Jack himself grows increasingly elusive and absent, she begins to question what life at his side would mean. For answers, she turns to his best friend and confidant, Lem Billings, a closeted gay man who has made the Kennedy family his own, and who has been instructed by them to seal the deal with Jack’s new girl. But as he gets to know her, a deep and touching friendship emerges, leaving him with a true dilemma: Is this the marriage she deserves?

Narrated by an older Lem as he looks back at his own role in a complicated alliance, this is a courtship story full of longing and suspense, of what-ifs and possible wrong turns. It is a surprising look at Jackie before she was that Jackie. And in bestselling author Louis Bayard’s witty and deeply empathetic telling, Jackie & Me is a page turning story of friendship, love, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a fresh take on two iconic American figures.



Of all places, the East Village. Miles from the Upper East Side, and there she was, sauntering down Avenue A in a linen skirt and black blouse. The Nina Ricci sunglasses clamped on like aviator’s goggles, the carriage nowhere more equestrian than when she stepped over the snoring, splayed drag queen. Was she coming or going? Catching a flick at the Hollywood Theatre or meeting a friend at Old Buenos Aires? There was no way of asking, with the gentleman-thug from the Secret Service following ten feet behind. I could have damned the torpedoes, I suppose, but I’m embarrassed to say that at the sight of her I did what every other New Yorker does. Stopped and gawked. As if she were some golden hind, yes, trotting out of a glade.

Imagine my frustration. Some six years have passed since I last gazed on her—her, I mean, and not her immaculate Christmas cards—so it was startling to have the universe, after all this time, grant me such a clear angle on her—and, in the next breath, withdraw it. One second, I mean, she was coming straight at me. The next, she was turning the corner at East Sixth, her shoulder bag swinging after her.

Now it’s certainly possible that, before she made the turn, she caught sight of me. It’s also possible that, even if she saw me—and this is the scenario that haunts me a little, a few hours after our crossing—she didn’t know me.

I bring that up because I don’t cut the same figure I used to. Since we last laid eyes on each other, I’ve become a stouter specimen, slower. The lungs whistle, the hair’s longer. I’ve watched friends of long standing pass me in the street without a second glance, and in my mind now, I imagine myself somehow slipping past the Secret Service goon and stealing up to that sunglassed figure and murmuring in her ear. “It’s Lem,” I would say.

And Jackie, having failed until now to connect the spectacle before her with the man she used to know, would hear my voice, climbing always higher than I mean it to, and would call up every inch of her breeding and say something like, “How perfectly lovely to see you.”

The thing is it would have been lovely. No bean counting about all the times she could have seen me. Just the two of us, leaning in like old conspirators, the years laughed away. “Do you remember,” I’d say, “listening to Margaret Truman? And getting stuck on the Ferris wheel? Watching J. Edgar Hoover eat?” Such a pure back-and-forth that the bodyguard would instantly relax his grip on the hip holster and let us carry on untroubled down East Sixth—hell, all the way back uptown, that’s how much catching up we’d have had to do, Jackie and me.

And really, if I had gone to all the trouble of approaching her, if I had risked the full hail of Secret Service bullets, I wouldn’t have squandered the moment by asking her something as banal as How are you? I mean, there are whole news organizations dedicated to exploring that question. Photographers have been legally enjoined from pressing it too hard. Maybe all I would have said was “I’m sorry.”

Now that’s odd. In conjuring this scenario, I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed the words that would come tumbling from my mouth.

Also unexpected: that I should have had to go all the way down to the East Village to catch sight of the great Jackie Ohhh. I mean, she lives no more than three minutes away from me by foot. Several friends have reported seeing her jogging, escorted, around the Central Park Reservoir. More times than I can recall, I’ve walked Ptolly past 1040 Fifth and silently counted up to the fifteenth floor. If it’s morning—say, seven-thirty or eight—I might imagine her greeting the day. (For, of course, she’s back to paid employment.) The ablutions. The hair piled in its Amazonian helmet. Shoulder pads, belted dress, and then, perhaps in the very moment of sallying through the lobby, the Nina Riccis clapped on. The whole Onassis carapace that the world is already expecting, the one it thinks it knows.

Only it doesn’t know how she got there.

But I do. I was along for the ride.

And maybe the reason I couldn’t go up to that armatured creature on Avenue A was because she bears only a passing relation to the Jackie I once knew. The scrapping career girl, I mean, with the homemade clothes and the ladders in her stockings and the childlike sense of the ridiculous. The girl whose skin broke out every so often, who doubted herself at every turn, who wasn’t even sure she wanted to marry at all—certainly not the kind of man she was supposed to marry. The Jackie nobody else knew but me, really, and the Jackie who can no longer be.

It shouldn’t be too hard to recollect her. I am by nature an archivist and have assembled comprehensive scrapbooks of all my friends’ lives. News clippings, magazines articles, letters, telegrams, menus, leaflets, ticker tape, parking tickets, they’re all here, ready to jar loose every associated memory. It shouldn’t be too hard at all. The only hard part will be finding myself in the mix.

For, of course, I was there too. Some version. Which, in this moment, feels like it wants to be known, too, no matter the reckoning. Words were said, deeds were done, and they can’t be called back, but they can be heard again in a new light.

And I ask myself: Do I really have any better use for my remaining hours? There are only so many books to read, episodes of Magnum, P.I. to watch. Only so many Kennedy relations requiring a guest room or a vomitorium. Only so many times you can read your own will and wonder if you’ve got it right.

Times Square is a terror, Central Park a savanna. The buses and subways are in the crapper. Our current president is a former Warner Brothers actor, and everyone in America is waiting for a giant panda in the National Zoo to get knocked up. All in all, it might be just the time to leave 1981 behind—a lark, even, to travel back to the passenger seat of Jack’s Ford Crestline, and reintroduce myself to the fellow who’s sitting there.

It’s the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, 1952, and there’s still a late-winter nip in the Virginia air, but Jack always keeps the top down because, by age thirty-four, he knows how dashing his hair looks in high wind. We’re due at Bobby and Ethel’s that night, but Jack instead cuts across Chain Bridge. I shoot him a look, and he says—imagine the offhandedness—that we have an additional passenger.

“Oh, yes?” I say. “And who should that be?”

“A Miss Bouvier.”

Mind you, there’s nothing in that honorific Miss to signify a lady of distinction. He refers to virtually all his girls that way. She might be a cashier at the Montelle Pharmacy or Finland’s deputy chief of mission, and you won’t know until you’ve pulled up in front of her apartment building and seen her tottering through the front gate, a blonde in a crew-neck cardigan or a brunette in a bullet bra, and it’s always the latter who raises her hand for you to kiss and the former who comes at you straight on like an encyclopedia salesman, and whoever it is remains “Miss” in our conversation until such time as the business is consummated, at which point she devolves into her component parts.

There is nothing, in short, about a “Miss Bouvier” to separate her from her predecessors. Were I to search his face—his soul—down to the most granular level, I would find no clue, for there is perhaps none to find. Miss Bouvier is a destination. And now that we’ve crossed into Virginia, the only thing left to figure out is where she might live. Clarendon? Cherrydale? A group home in Fort Myer, maybe. But we speed past all those destinations before steering up Old Dominion Drive. Nature rushes forth, and the car dealers and the Hot Shoppes fall away before dogwoods and tulip trees, tatters of forsythia.

“Have you known her long?” I ask.

“Not so very.”

“Define not so.”

“A year. Off and on.”

“More off or more on?”

“More off.”

“Young or old?”



“Engaged,” he says. “Or was.”

I glance at him. “To you?”

“Don’t be disgusting.”

“Will we be chauffeuring her fiancé, too?”

“We’d have to drive clear to New York for that. I understand he’s not worth it.”

By now, my glasses are fairly crusted over with pollen, so I’m making windshield wipers of my index fingers as I ask what it is that Miss Bouvier does with her days.

“Journalism,” he says.

“Is that how you met?”

“Oh,” he says. “I’m not on her beat.”

There’s something half buried in that remark, and I don’t know how to disinter it. Forests of redbud and magnolia are thickening around us, and somehow they’re all in on the secret, and Kay Starr sings “Wheel of Fortune” on the radio, and, during the second chorus, I sneeze, and Jack says, “Perfectly in tune, Lem,” and then the song is over, and we’re pulling up in front of . . .

Well, where? I can’t even tell. All I can make out through my encrusted specs are a row of white pilasters and a front portico. Where sits a girl.

Doesn’t she hear the car’s tires on the gravel? Or see our headlights slicing through the trees? When we first happen upon her, her face is angled away, as though she’s cocking her ear for a nightingale. Her knees are drawn protectively to her chest, and there’s something quite exposed about her. I mean, she doesn’t look like she belongs there any more than I do, and I briefly wonder if she’s a housemaid or a nanny, taking her one allotted evening out. Abruptly, she stands and gives us two quick waves and then, as she jogs to the passenger side, comes briefly ablaze in the headlights.

By now, of course, I’m extricating myself from the front of the car and inserting myself with no great grace into the back, and the operation is so consuming that, for a second or two, I lose all consciousness of her, and then I hear her say—in that voice, like a ghost whispering through the pipes—“You must be Lem.”

I mutter something on the order of yes, I must be, and she smiles. A wider smile than I would have guessed possible. The eyes even wider. Goat’s eyes, that’s my first churlish thought, or a madwoman’s, but maybe that’s to forestall the sense that I’m being seen through a wider lens. All in all, there’s a certain relief in being able to retreat into the Crestline’s back seat. A planetarium-like darkness, with the two of them swimming like moons. She has dabbed herself with Chateau Krigler 12 (I consider telling her it’s my mother’s favorite), and there is the complicating counter-aroma of Pall Malls, and somewhere at the back, simple bovine perspiration. For the first time, I begin to wonder if Miss Bouvier is nervous—though it’s difficult to confirm because she has a small voice and the wind seems to slap every word back down her gullet. Her general lilt, as best I can tell, is interrogative, but why should that be a surprise? Girls in these days are instructed to shoot out a clean, firm thread of inquiry at all times. The more interested they appear to be, the more the boys will understand they don’t have to be, in themselves, interesting, which is a relief to both parties. Jackie, I imagine, is now asking the name of Bobby’s daughter or wondering if Eunice will be there and which one is Pat? For all I know, she’s speculating about the Washington Senators’ pennant chances. If pressed, she’ll fall back on the weather. How chilly it is for March.

The point is there’s no way of knowing what they’re saying, and Jack sometimes gets cross if I talk too much with his dates (unless I’m doing something useful like showing them the door). Nothing for it, then, but to watch Miss Bouvier’s head—under the weight of her impending introduction to the Kennedy clan—loll ever so gradually to the right.

It’s when we’re crossing back over Chain Bridge that she rouses herself to ask: “Jack, what color is your car?”

Queer question. But then I realize she’s never seen Jack’s car (or Jack himself, maybe) in the naked light of day.

“I don’t know,” he mumbles. “Red.”

“Pomegranate,” I say.

Something quickens in the column of her neck. By easy degrees, she turns around and bestows on me a fuller version of that first smile. Then she leans toward Jack and, in a whisper stagy enough for me to hear, says, “I like your friend.”


One of the things about being retired is you either give up on reading all those books you said you would or you finally get around to them. Lately, believe it or not, I’ve been boning up on quantum mechanics—in part, I suppose, because the subject aligns with the trend of my own thoughts. Now, we tend to think of our destiny as a sealed deal, but you take old Heisenberg. He said you can know where a particle is or you can know how fast it’s moving, but you can’t know both things at the same time, and the more you know about one, the less you know about the other. Schrödinger’s poor cat, cooped up in its meager little box, is neither dead nor alive or, you might say, is both dead and alive, until a single observer peeks into the box and settles the question—but only to the observer’s satisfaction.

So imagine that, embedded in every human life, there are traffic crossings, where—if we were but to peek into the box—we would see the contingencies of our fate coming together and commingling, before charging off in opposed directions. From the vantage point of 1981, for example, I look back at my own life and force events into a certain sequence. That point in my childhood, for instance, early in the thirties, when my father up and died. Looking back, I can say that, in one iteration, the dons of Choate respond to that calamity by graciously offering me a scholarship, which is how I am still around to meet Jack, which is how I come to be invited to Hyannisport, which is how I come to meet the Kennedys. In another iteration, Choate responds by casting me fatherless to the winds, and I scramble for a spot at Sewickley Academy, and I never meet Jack, never go to Hyannisport. Never meet Jackie. What does that Lem look like? And is he even now living that life while I’m marching through mine?

Whoever he is, he can’t escape the basic infirmities of his genotype—asthma, nearsightedness, the voice that climbs always higher than he likes. Everything else is up for grabs. Depending on where he’s being observed, he might at this moment be an insurance salesman in Fox Chapel or a building contractor in Ligonier. He might be painting boardwalk portraits in Atlantic City. But why aim so low? He might be a personage—an entry in Who’s Who, though for what I can’t say. He might have inveigled some wretched woman to the altar, acquired a child or two, a grandchild. Nothing, as I’ve said, is off the table. My friend Raul has said more than once that, in another life, I should have been an interior decorator, a job title I don’t necessarily care for, but I acknowledge that, with all the flipping I’ve done of Baltimore row houses, it amounts to nearly the same thing.

Turning now to me and Jackie, I can stipulate that, right from the beginning, we shared a spark of fellow feeling, and yet it might have gone nowhere, nowhere at all, if circumstances hadn’t played out the way they had. There was no guarantee that I would ever see Miss Bouvier again after that night or have cause to remember her as clearly as I do. As for Jackie herself—well, at that time in her life, any number of opposed destinies were possible—she was just out of college, for Pete’s sake—and she tried them all on, didn’t she, like gowns. So if I’m to peer into the box and catch the quantum moment when her destiny collides with Jack’s, I have to do it through the eyes of Charlie Bartlett.

Back in ’51, he was the quickly rising, well-liked D.C. correspondent for the Chattanooga Times. He had recently joined his Lake Shore fortune to the dowry of a U.S. Steel heiress, but he’d always nurtured a bit of a flame for Jackie, for which he assuaged his Catholic conscience by seeking potential husbands for her. Wildly unsuitable, many of them: a chemist with the Atomic Energy Commission, a lobbyist for sorghum farmers, an entertainer at children’s parties. Was it Charlie’s idea of a joke? So when he rang her up in May to invite her to yet another Sunday supper, the lie rose to her lips.

“Gee, Charlie, I’ve already got a date that night.”

“When’s he picking you up?”

“Oh, I think—eight or eight-thirty or some such . . .”

“Perfect. You can come by at six and get some drinks and nibbles, and your beau can pick you up at our place.”

“He’s not my beau, really . . .”

“Of course he isn’t, I haven’t approved him yet. Now don’t be too late about it because somebody interesting will be there.”

Dear God, she thought. Somebody interesting.

She might still have demurred, but she realized suddenly that Sunday was also Mother’s Day, and the thought of spending the whole stretch of it with her mother overrode her misgivings.

“All right,” she conceded. “But I can’t stay long.”

Now, of course, having pretended to have a date, she would have to procure one. This was perilous for a girl of that era. She could not actually ask a boy out, she could merely propose that he join her for an activity in some region proximate to his with the possibility of there being fun. Jackie phoned this vagueness around to five men before landing on Michael O’Sullivan, a Comp Lit major from George Washington who had never, to her knowledge, made advances on a girl living or dead. Sensing interest, she at once dispelled the vagueness and instructed him to meet her at 3419 Q Street, Northwest, eight-thirty sharp. A little after six, she was stepping gingerly through the Bartletts’ doorway, scanning the room with dread. The guests, she noticed, were almost entirely female—perhaps the somebody interesting had found somewhere more interesting. A half hour later, there came a rapping of the Bartletts’ knocker. A grin broke out on Charlie’s face. “You took your sweet time,” he called, and with that, the evening’s final guest stepped in.

By this point in American history, he was known to everybody in the room and would have been known to everybody in the house next door and the one next to that, but the sight of so many eyes bent his way seemed to affect him as an invasion, and his response was to take a half-step back and to yank at the knot of his regimental tie, a gesture that might have registered as man-of-the-people to anyone but Jackie, who saw only the compulsiveness of the tic. Who noticed moreover the gap between his shirt collar and his neck, the baggy folds that his jacket formed around his shoulders. Her first impulse was not to fawn but to fold her arms around him. There, there.

He paused, retraced the half step he had just retreated and bestowed on this crowd of friends and strangers the democratizing smile that was still two years away from the cover of Life magazine. “Good evening,” he said. “Good evening, friends.”

The room had been conquered in advance. Hands had extended, lips had parted. Bars of pink sprouted on Martha Bartlett’s cheeks. A wave of almost nauseous delight climbed through Pat Murray Roche (who had forgotten perhaps that her parents back in Bronxville used to snub the Kennedys at every turn). As for the party’s other single girl . . . well, Hickey Sumers ditched her cigarette holder and got herself a highball, which she didn’t drink so much as apply, in strict allotments, to her mouth for the purpose of making it shine. Sidling now toward her quarry, she kept her glass very close to her chin, as though it were a folded fan ready to spring open.

“Oh, Congressman, you’re so good to make time for us. I mean, all the demands on you. I mean, what an honor.”

The only one who didn’t make a move in his direction was Jackie, and as she later recalled, that had less to do with her dismay at the general spectacle than with the implied assumption that she was to join it. One more of the bobby-soxers. She remembered then her mother’s advice. When set down in a room with two men, always bestow your smiles on the less attractive—it will please him and pique the other. In this case, Charlie being such an old pal, it wasn’t hard to bend some rays in his direction. Twice, the Congressman asked her something benign; twice, she answered coolly and briefly. She allowed Hickey to sit beside him during cocktails, and whenever his gaze swerved her way, she sent her glance toward Q Street, where even now her knight in armor, Michael O’Sullivan, might be palely loitering. (Though she realized she no longer remembered what he looked like.)

Dinner was put off in favor of old-fashioneds and Charades, and when the Congressman specifically asked that she be put on the opposite team, she took it as a sign of the antagonism that had quietly risen between them. It was during the second round that he reached for one of the torn-off memo-pad sheets on the conch-shell coffee table, penciled something across it, folded it in half and, like a Western Union messenger, handed it to her.

Sam Houston.

“Very well,” she said.

She began by making the shape of an hourglass, then she waited until her team winnowed it down to sand and then Sam. At her periphery, she could see Martha the timekeeper squinting down at the old Buck family watch. With a ferocity that surprised her, she made now as if to strike the antique Sheraton armchair on which she’d been sitting. Strike became cleave and then, like an annunciating angel, Pat Murray Roche sang out:


Nothing more was needed. The whole exchange lasted less than a minute.

Afterward, the Congressman raised himself with care from the other Sheraton armchair and confided to her in low tones that he’d had Sam Houston on the brain lately. “If the subject interests you, Miss Bouvier, I know of a biography you might—”

“Marquis James.”

“You’ve read it.”

In truth, she’d only ever known it as a spine in her stepfather’s library.

“Next time,” he said, carefully preserving the distance between them, “I want you on my team.”


She spun around to find Martha Bartlett tapping the Buck family watch. “You said you had to leave by eight-thirty, darling.”

“Gee, that’s too bad,” said the Congressman.

“Yes, isn’t it?” said Martha, reaching for her guest’s cloak. “Oh, darling, it’s been grand having you. And now that we know what a talented clue-giver you are, we’ll have to make you a permanent charades fixture. Won’t we, Charlie? But next time, please do bring your date!”

Martha must have been more invested in her friend Hickey’s success than she’d let on because the shelf of her pregnant belly was acting now as a prod, edging Jackie closer to the door. The Bartletts’ terrier was herding her in the same direction, and she had just enough time to send out a half wave to the other guests before the door closed after her.

She stood there for some seconds on the Bartletts’ stoop, wondering if she hadn’t perhaps overplotted the whole evening. Wouldn’t she rather be handing the Congressman a clue of her own and watching him squirm? Feeling the rivalry mount around them? Or was this the happier outcome? A free woman in a free land.

She took a few paces down the street, then heard at her back the scatter of claws on brick. It was the Bartletts’ terrier, who, having caught up to Jackie, subsided to an easy trot that seemed to convey they’d been plotting their escape together. Then, at their back, another sound.

“Miss Bouvier! Do you need a lift?”

It was the Congressman, standing coatless on the stoop. And again, what surprised her was her own maternal impulse. He’ll catch his death.

“Oh, gee!” she called back. “That’s awfully sweet. I brought my car, you see!”


  • “Absolutely irresistible.”
    —Kim Hubbard, People (Best Books of Summer 2022)

    "What a pleasure . . . Bayard is such an exuberant storyteller . . . This stylish, sexy, nostalgic story will linger like Jackie’s signature scent of Pall Malls and Chateau Krigler 12. It’s a complicated bouquet of bitter and sweet."
    —Elisabeth Egan, The New York Times Book Review

    “A delight…a poignant, late-summer-afternoon kind of novel. ...a story perfectly tuned to our ongoing fascination with the Kennedy marriage — and a novel, like Jackie herself, with charm to spare.”
    The Washington Post

    “Lem Billings was John F. Kennedy’s prep school roommate and a close friend. He was also gay. This captivating work of historical fiction offers an intimate look into Lem’s relationships with the charismatic young senator and the budding journalist Jacqueline Bouvier, whom JFK enlists Lem to vet.”
    People (Book of the Week)

    “The charms of Bayard’s delightful new novel about Jackie Kennedy aren’t only found in its historical context but also in its intelligent, witty tone and poignant dissection of friendship, class and betrayal. The outcome is surprisingly affecting, and Bayard’s gamble of embarking on a well-known path from an unusual perspective pays off handsomely.”
    —Connie Ogle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
    “Narrator Lem is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway … Jackie, she’s pure delight … Romance with bite: the perfect escapism for today’s anxious times.”
    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
    “Here he brings a poignant empathy, persuasive intimacy, and nuanced imagination to his interpretation of a relatively unexamined chapter in Kennedy lore.”
    Booklist (starred review)
    “Bayard (Courting Mr. Lincoln) offers an enchanting narrative of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Jacqueline Bouvier…delightfully dishy… Bayard suffuses the spritzy story with wit, charm, and depth. The result is tailor-made for fans of Camelot drama.”
    Publishers Weekly
    "All of Louis Bayard’s incredible gifts as a teller of stories we think we already know are on brilliant display here: a captivating setting, unforgettable characters, and an entirely surprising take on a familiar tale. Jackie Me is riveting, funny, charming, and haunting. He makes it look so easy! I will happily follow Bayard wherever he leads."
    —Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest and Good Company
    "A loving and romantic look at an unlikely friendship told with a playful command of language that feels as effortless as it is exciting. Bayard possesses a singular wit and deftly uses it to give fresh insight into even his best known characters. I never wanted it to end."
    —Steven Rowley, author of The Editor and The Guncle
    "I absolutely adore this novel! It’s a testament to Louis Bayard’s remarkable gifts as storyteller how suspenseful it is given that we already know this story… or do we? Full of Bayard’s trademark charm and wit, with prose that sings and a perfect voice, Jackie Me delighted me from beginning to end."
    —Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
    "We all dream of novels as good as this one: Fascinating, funny, gorgeous, heartbreaking. In my next life I want to be Louis Bayard."
    —Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me and Better Luck Next Time
     “A startling rendering of Jackie Kennedy’s life written with panache and daring.”
    —Laurence Leamer, bestselling author of The Kennedy Women and Capote's Women
    "It's hard to combine wit and tender-heartedness in a single book, but Louis Bayard has produced a lovely amalgam in Jackie and Me. This latest subtly crafted addition to his oeuvre boasts a top-notch structure and the best-ever depiction of 'Papa Joe' Kennedy, as well as a portrait of Janet Auchincloss, Jackie’s mother, that is poisonous perfection."
    —Thomas Mallon, author of Henry and Clara and Watergate

    Praise for Courting Mr. Lincoln:

    “An exquisite historical reimagining of a love acknowledged—and a longing denied.”
    “Bayard has written eight other novels, and he’s extraordinarily gifted at blending provocative fiction with history. The details of [Mary Todd and Lincoln’s] courtship are lovely to read, but Lincoln’s time with Speed is much more riveting. At book’s end, who’s courting Lincoln remains an enticing mystery.”
    The Washington Post

    “Bayard's masterful command of language enchants and thrills; his meticulous, almost otherworldly, understanding of his historical subject awes and inspires . . . Courting Mr. Lincoln is Bayard at his absolute best. He offers more reasons to love one of the most admired presidents in U.S. history and proves yet again why he himself is one of the nation's greatest literary gems.”
    Shelf Awareness

    “Thoroughly researched and thrillingly plotted . . . Filled with rich historical detail and compulsively readable, Courting Mr. Lincoln is a story of a best friend, a future wife, and the political legend that they came together to create, each leaving an indelible mark on the man that would one day become president. Fans of historical fiction will be up late into the night to uncover the next chapter of this fascinating time in history.”
    New York Journal of Books

    Praise for Louis Bayard’s Previous Work: 

    “A tour de force.”
    Publishers Weekly 

    “Brilliantly plotted and completely absorbing.”
    Sunday Times (London) 

    “Shimmering, knock-your-socks-off language.”
    Entertainment Weekly 

    “Bayard reinvigorates historical fiction, rendering the past as if he’d witnessed it firsthand.”
    The New York Times 

  • "Captivating . . . the novel offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these iconic figures"—HillRag

On Sale
Jun 13, 2023
Page Count
368 pages
Algonquin Books

Louis Bayard

Louis Bayard

About the Author

Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed Courting Mr. Lincoln. He lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at George Washington University. Visit him online at www.louisbayard.com.

Learn more about this author