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Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker | [Jennifer Chiaverini]

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (364 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lauren 11-04-14
    Lauren 11-04-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Fell Short In Narration, Story Development"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. This book looked promising as I'm always interested in historical novels. I wasn't in love with the narrator when I bought it but hoped the story would be interesting enough to carry her. Alas, it fell short all the way around. So short that I dreaded going on my daily walk knowing I had this book waiting for me. I stopped listening about halfway thru - I realized I was avoiding my walk because of this story. Life's too short to listen to 7 more hours of drone, fake-y voices.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Well,probably most interesting was the fact that an ex slave could sew for The First Lady. I'd hoped to learn more about Mrs Lincoln, her clothing and how an ex slave could build such a great dressmaking business. But it either was so poorly narrated that my mind wandered and/or story not developing that I gave up.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Get a different narrator. Her voices made mockeries of the characters. And it was hard to tell who was speaking. She was boring but also lacking in the ability to bring the characters to life and make them memorable.


    Do you think Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I don't know, as I never finished the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I just won't buy anytHing with this narrator anymore.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-29-14 Member Since 2013

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "A Saga of Red, White & Blue Tears"
    Where does Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker?

    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..


    What does Christina Moore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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!


    If you could take any character from Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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 :)


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy 07-26-13
    Amy 07-26-13
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    "LOVE THIS BOOK!!!"
    Would you listen to Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker again? Why?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lazeth Maumelle, AR, United States 03-12-13
    Lazeth Maumelle, AR, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Good history"
    Where does Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book rates in the upper 3/4 of my listening


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker?

    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.


    What does Christina Moore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    If you could take any character from Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Elizabeth - I would like to learn her art from her, but also just sit and ask questions and listen to her experiences.


    Any additional comments?

    I think the author does her history research and homework very well before she starts writing.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise 11-21-14
    Denise 11-21-14 Member Since 2010
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    "This book grew on me..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The longer I read it the more interesting it got. Definitely worth the listen!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobbie LEEDEY, OK, United States 06-25-13
    Bobbie LEEDEY, OK, United States 06-25-13 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Misleading Title"

    In my opinion, this book wasn't actually about Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker as much as it was about Mrs. Lincoln and her emotional distress. I had presumed the story was going to follow the life of the dressmaker, but the dressmaker's story was secondary to Mrs. Lincoln's story.

    Prior to reading this book, I knew that Mrs. Lincoln had struggled with emotional issues throughout her life. This book gave the impression that Mrs. Lincoln was a self-centered basket case. I do not know which is the more accurate picture. As for the dressmaker, the little we learn about her life in this book is fascinating. She would be considered quite an accomplished person in any era.

    This book was interesting, but I thought it dragged on for too long. I'm glad to have listened to it, and I was glad when it was over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet 05-03-13
    Janet 05-03-13
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    "Wonderfully Insightful"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nom D. Plume Ohio 04-30-13
    Nom D. Plume Ohio 04-30-13 Member Since 2009

    J.S.H.

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    "Surprised Guy Here"
    What did you love best about Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker?

    We travel often and have, for years, listened to Audible books on our trips. I received a tip at work that my wife would enjoy "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker" so I suggested it. We downloaded and began listening.

    While this is not an "edge-of-the-seat-page-turner" it was very well written and gave great insight into one of the greatest president's we have ever had. Since I do the majority of the driving I need something that will keep my interest and keep me awake. This book did just that.

    The best part? For a guy: It didn't dwell heavily on the dressmaking aspect of things!


    What does Christina Moore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Her inflections as well as her well thought out voicing of the characters were very good. Sometimes narrators go over the top and voice a character in a manner that seems ridiculous. Christina Moore seemed to capture most of the characters quite well.


    If you could take any character from Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    President Abraham Lincoln...duh! LOL. Who would choose to go with any of the other characters???


    Any additional comments?

    This is a very thought provoking narrative. I appreciate the short addendum at the end of the book explaining what part was fictionalized in order to tell a better story, but over all it was a very true telling of actual events.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    k 04-27-13
    k 04-27-13
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    "Two Worlds in one space and time ignite here!"
    Where does Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Quite High!


    What other book might you compare Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker to and why?

    The original book


    What does Christina Moore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Far too many to list.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Perhaps a few more than one.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent listen with history and fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 04-14-13
    Margaret Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 04-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent"

    This was one of the best historical books I have read! Great history with a terrific story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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