I have a habit of starting books at lunchtime, and Mary by Janis Cooke Newman [MacAdam/Cage, Sept.] made me forget to go back to work.

It begins in the insane asylum where Mary Lincoln was sent by her son Robert after Abraham Lincoln's death. There are some haunting moments there, like when she finds paper dolls cut from the newspaper by a girl with Down's syndrome, and that's her only chance to read outside news. There's lots of detail about Mary's relationship with Lincoln, their love story, his depression, drugs he took that you would think were illegal, and how they dealt with the death of a child. You just feel Mary is speaking to you in this novel. I think it will be great for book clubs, and hip people who like fictional biographies and historical fiction. Anyone who's read Doris Kearns Goodwin's book on Lincoln will find Mary very interesting.