I received a free copy of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker from TLC Book Tours for my honest review.
About the Book:
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Plume (September 24, 2013)
About the Author:
Connect with Jennifer on her website,elmcreek.net, and on Twitter @jchiaverini.
I must admit to not knowing about Elizabeth Keckley prior to reading this novel. What a fascinating person to use as the basis for a historical novel. Born into slavery but with a talent for sewing that enabled her to buy herself and her son into freedom. She moved to Washington, D.C., just as the Union was breaking up but not before making dresses for the likes of Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Robert E. Lee. As those ladies left with their husbands she was introduced to the new first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln. That began long relationship that went beyond client and dressmaker.
The novel is rich in history and for those with a knowledge of the Civil War-it’s battle, the personalities of the generals, the politics of the times – the book will be read with that certain foreknowledge rather like having read the ending before you have finished the tale. For those not initiated into the details of this horrific War it will not over educate you but just provide a basic play by play of important events. I’ve done a lot of reading about this period in history and I do think it made the story richer.
The title is a bit of a misnomer if you ask me. It’s really more Mrs. Lincoln’s story than it is Mrs. Keckley’s. In that I was a touch disappointed. The story bookends with Mrs. Keckley’s life but the bulk of the tale belongs to the First Lady. I knew that Mrs. Lincoln had issues but was surprised to learn what I did about her. It was an interesting read and from what I understand it was heavily drawn from Mrs. Keckley’s own book. It was by no means a page turner but it was a fascinating look at a woman who defied a system determined to keep her as property at a time when women were barely thought to be capable of more than keeping house, let alone a woman of color. Bravo to Elizabeth Keckley – at least for a while – for becoming a woman of influence and power in her community. It’s a sin that she died in near poverty and lapsed into almost obscurity.
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Disclosure: I received a free copy of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker from TLC Book Tours for my honest review. I received no compensation for this post.