Crowns of Thorns and

Heuvel Gerry Vander, Author, Gerry Van Der Heuvel, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24599-5
In this dual biography of two women who played significant roles in the country's historyMary Todd Lincoln, wife of the President of the United States and Varina Howell Davis, wife of the President of the Confederate States of Americathere is little outward commonality in their lives save for the fact that ``for four years, and for the only time in American history, two women had simultaneously occupied, albeit in rival governments, the position of first lady.'' In this insightful study, Van der Heuvel, press secretary to first lady Pat Nixon, does much to rehabilitate the reputation of maligned Mary Todd Lincoln, who is pictured as pathetic and misunderstood, yet singleminded in her devotion to her husband. More attractive is the Confederate wife who, at age 34, became the first lady of the South and a major figure of the Civil War period. Well-educated, outspoken, an engaging foil for her older husband's reticence, Varina Davis left her mark on the social life of the Confederacy. The two women, who never met, bore family tragedies and the brunt of hostile publicity as the fortunes of their husbands turned. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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