The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein is a very well-written treatment of the Lincoln’s often stormy marriage. Epstein has become quite a proficient writer on Lincoln and all things Lincoln related. He knows his material, can write well, and provides a compelling, fleshed out portrait of Lincoln and his world.
In this book, Epstein gives the definite impression that part of the president’s well-known patience and ability to bear burdens came, in part, through his marriage to Mary Todd. They were an unlikely couple, and the opposing traits which drew them together in their early years drew them apart later. This weighed heavily on Lincoln, but in reading Epstein’s book, one can’t help but conclude that it also helped propel Lincoln to transform suffering into patience and fortitude.
If he could struggle to make a bad marriage work, he could bring the nation back together. This may seem like a stretch, but Lincoln lived his private, family life in the White House as the Civil War unfolded. Epstein shows how they were very much intertwined.