If you didn't know that John Wilkes Booth had a sister, you're not alone. Jane Singer tells the tragic story of Asia Booth Clarke in her novel, Booth's Sister.
In Singer's novel, Asia, the older sister of John, tells the lyrical story of her childhood with her younger brother, the boy she protected and taught, and yearned to be. For Asia wanted to be an actor, like her father, and older brothers, and John had no interest. But, Junious Booth wanted only his sons on the stage. So, Asia poured her entire soul into her brother's life, until she could see through his eyes. But, while Asia passionately loved their Negro housekeeper, and willingly hid her husband when he was running from slave catchers, John didn't see that woman as a human, denied his father's beliefs in freedom, and identified with the South and the Confederacy.
There are whole aspects of this story that many readers of literary fiction will not be familiar with. I had no idea that John Wilkes Booth had a sister, who was imprisoned in her house for twelve days after Lincoln's assassination. I didn't know that Confederates snuck in from Canada, and tried to burn New York City. Singer's historical details are important, but very subtle points in this novel.
Booth's Sister is a tragic story of a woman who disagreed with her brother's beliefs, but loved her brother with her whole heart. Singer takes advantage of the history of the Booth family, and its connection with the theater, in using the lyrical language of the story. Shakespeare lends itself to the tragedy of this story. Singer's novel is beautiful, and sad, with its love, passion, and language.
Booth's Sister by Jane Singer. Bell Bridge Books, ©2008. ISBN 9780980245332 (paperback), 228p.