Some say Saunders' writing compares with the literary greats. This is my first introduction to him, and I am captivated. It is an historical novel, but it is unlike any that I have previously read. There is an oddness to the style that takes getting used to, but it is worth persevering. The story centers around the death of Willie Lincoln, the President's son, and I found myself both laughing and tearing up as Saunders tells his story.
While he doesn't dwell on the illness, death and burial, the reader feels the emotions that the Lincolns are experiencing. The President and his wife are hosting a party while Willie is ill in his bed. Watching them attend to their guests while running upstairs to check on their son made me realize the responsibility that the President must carry throughout his term.
After the funeral we see that Willie is in this "transitional" place, and we begin meeting the ghostly spirits that fight for his soul. The characters are interestingly portrayed, and some of their back-stories were interestingly presented. Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology came to mind as these ghosts spoke, but Saunders has a style of his own and the comparison falters at times.
He has an interesting way of showing how things are viewed differently by different people, and I found myself thinking of the various interpretations of the news that we have in our current political climate. I would be curious to share a cup of coffee with Saunders and pick the brain of the man who captured the words of ghosts.
I believe that this book was definitely worth the time it took me to get involved in it and look forward to the author's next endeavor.
Publisher - Random House
Date of Publication - February 14, 2017