Author Nancy Horan Discusses Her New Novel About Lincoln in Library Interview

July 7, 2023

The Bedford Public Library featured an interview with author Nancy Horan about “The House of Lincoln,” her new novel about Abraham Lincoln from 1851 until his assassination in 1865. This book goes beyond the usual highlights of Lincoln’s amazing life story and explores the daily lives of the Lincoln household from the viewpoint of a fictional young servant girl from Madeira, Portugal. She offers a more sympathetic view of Mary Todd Lincoln, who believed in Abe and was a strong force in his career.

Horan focused the story on Lincoln’s hometown – Springfield, Illinois – and the impact of the war.

Therese Fowler, who conducted the interview, had trod a similar path of supplementing known facts with imagination in her novel “Z,” based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. Both authors are women from Illinois, but had known little of the race laws and attacks on Blacks in their state early in the 20th century.

“Lincoln came out of a very racist environment, but he grew and dragged the country along with him,” she said. “He believed strongly in fairness.”

“Springfield was almost a character in the story – a microcosm of the country itself,” Horan explained. Illinois was aligned with the Union, but there were no battles, although it was the site of a prison for Confederate soldiers.

Horan added, “I think there is real hope in this book…and yet, there is also recognition of the alienation that exists.”

Noreen O’Gara, Assistant Director at the Bedford Public Library, explains that libraries cooperate in “virtual programming.” The Burlington Public Library was the original sponsor of this event, and they reached out to all regions across the Commonwealth, inviting other libraries to join. There were 49 other libraries involved.

“One of the good things to come out of the pandemic,” she said, “was the ability to do virtual programming. The authors love it – they can reach so many more readers from the comfort of their own homes and viewers seem to enjoy it, too. 

“Bedford has taken every opportunity to join libraries across the Commonwealth in hosting a variety of authors and interviews.” O’Gara said. “These collaborative programs have been so much fun and are economical, too.”

The interview can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBO5WijAjxU

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