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Book Review: Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

September 15, 2018 0 Comments
Lincoln In The BardoGeorge SaundersHistorical Fiction, Magical RealismRandom House

Lincoln In The Bardo


February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old.

The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has realized it’s in for a long struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s son, Willie is gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.

This is an unforgettable story of familial love and loss. It breaks free of its historical framework into a supernatural realm – both hilarious and terrifying.

Willie finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state, a monumental struggle erupts over Willie’s soul.


Lincoln In The Bardo

Spoiler-Free Review:


I read this book on audiobook and honestly, had to fight through it. It was clearly too avant-garde and just NOT for me. The audiobook made so little sense that, for a while, I wondered if I was listening to the right book. Firstly, there are FAR too many narrators. It almost felt like one was just jumping in part way through another’s speech. This made it hard to focus, understand or enjoy what was happening. In fact, at times I wanted to throw this book at a wall.

That being said, I really did enjoy some of the characterisation, the later chapters and the sense of sadness and clarity that the ending did bring.

Therefore, it’s a hard one for me to rate. On the one hand, I can appreciate Saunders’ brilliance, and the way that he was able to captivate me in the sadness towards the end of the book was heartbreaking. On the other hand, the beginning of this book is an absolute shambles, where the narration was so messy and I felt lost. All in all, if you tend to read more heavy stuff, and like more of Saunders’ writing, I would say to give this a go. But if you’re looking for something fun or enjoyable to read, find anything else.


I received this E-Arc in exchange for an honest review. I would like to say thank-you to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me with an advanced-readers-copy of this book. 




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