New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the extraordinary friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who won her freedom by the skill of her needle, and the friendship of the First Lady by her devotion.
In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.
In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste”, responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.
Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.
©2013 Jennifer Chiaverini (P)2013 Recorded Books
This was a fascinating story and great listen. The performer did a fabulous job and the writer made Mrs. Eckley, Mrs. Lincoln and their relationship come to life. By the end, however, I found Mrs. Eckley (spelling?) a little too innocent and selfless to believe. I can't believe such a smart businesswoman would be taken for so many rides.
This book rates in the upper 3/4 of my listening
History - the freedom of slaves, at least for a while! Also the friendship that was formed between a very lonely person and her dependable dressmaker.
A very good reader that makes you want to listen more. Her ability to emphasize important information but also to have a kindness and empathy in her voice.
Elizabeth - I would like to learn her art from her, but also just sit and ask questions and listen to her experiences.
I think the author does her history research and homework very well before she starts writing.
Yes, I've read others by JC and loved them. This one I did not love. I'm a complete fan of historical fiction but this book seemed to drag on and on. I felt like I might as well pick up a text book.
Gave up and didn't get that far.
Tell us about yourself!
As a historical fiction it was by far one of the best documented and most sympathetic to all women of the times both of the North and of the South. Usually, Mrs. Lincoln has been vilified in most accounts as the first lady;however, in this account her character seemed more balance in its portrayal. Secondly, both the written and oral narrative were captivating in bring the reader along side of the characters in their personal struggles and triumphs. In conclusion, through the narrative I gain a better understanding the presidency of the nineteenth century and the day to day life of women from the perspective a free business mulatto woman.
One of the most memorable moments of life of Elizabeth Keckley was when found out she had been betrayed by some she trusted. After she had request that the editor of her autobiography not include the actual letters of Mrs. Lincoln he asked to read so he could do the final editing. He totally disregarded her wishes and had sent them to the printer for publication. Perhaps he not being a free woman of color he was too foolish to understand the long range repercussion his cavalier behavior would cost Mrs. Keckley and other of her status in Antebellum America.I shivered as I listened and became anxious. Shame on him for his lack of wisdom, honesty and forethought..
The narrator brought out the pathos of the unfortunate times of the War Between the States and the Reconstruction period in America.The human sagas.of the diverse population caught in the grips of greed, cruelty and hatred was dramatized by the narrator. She held my attention and built tension through her dramatic reading. Bravo!
I don't think I could take any of the characters out to dinner,because I am too upset with their naivety and gullibility. Remember I am an outsider and I have one hundred years separation.However, it seemed that the desire for gain and perhaps fame lead to the degradation of a very brave and strong woman Maybe it was stupidity that had caused some to give the woman misguided advice. She was free; but not yet a full citizen, and she was still perceived as second class. Reflecting on both her and their behaviors and attitudes which led to Mrs. Keckly's disgrace and poverty has left me bad dinner company.
Perhaps a debate :)
Read about American History which we must learn and ponder; then vow to live out the values delineated in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence .. Mrs. Keckly and Mrs. Lincoln were women whose lives reflect their period of history. I am glad I have the privilege to learn from their lives.
This book gives you a view of the White House from the inside. My boyfriend is reading in "A Team of Rivals". We compared things and events that happened. Amazing book, Amazing performance. Love this book. Will recommend this book.
This book was written for me to read. My love of history, especially the civil war. I am also a seamstress, so that part of the book peaked my interest also. I have to say it did not disappoint me in anyway. Totally worth it.
The original book
Far too many to list.
Perhaps a few more than one.
Excellent listen with history and fiction.
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