We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
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.
Regular Price:$31.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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 (326 )
5 star
 (128)
4 star
 (109)
3 star
 (64)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
4.0 (287 )
5 star
 (122)
4 star
 (89)
3 star
 (50)
2 star
 (19)
1 star
 (7)
Story
4.2 (286 )
5 star
 (144)
4 star
 (87)
3 star
 (40)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Ronna United States 02-17-13
    Ronna United States 02-17-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    411
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    174
    173
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    84
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A different , authentic view of history!!"

    Elizabeth Keckley was a former slave who earned her own freedom, and her son's, by sewing clothes. Her son, George, was conceived when Elizabeth was enslaved and her master raped her. But George was very dear to her anyway, and as the story opens, he is attending college in Ohio. Elizabeth has set up her business in Washington, DC in the 1860's, working out of a 'colored boardinghouse' , where Elizabeth had lots of friends. Her reputation soon has her making dresses for the DC elite.

    When the Lincoln's come to the White House, Elizabeth becomes Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, confidant, and apparently her only true friend. As Elizabeth comes and goes in the White House she becomes acquainted with everyone there , including the President, for whom she has great respect and hopes as becoming the "Great Emancipator".

    The very intimate and interesting story chronicles the Civil War and the Lincoln family from Elizabeth's unique perspective. Tales of battles, huge death tolls, and political intrigue are interesting in and of themselves. The interaction of Elizabeth with Mary Todd Lincoln also gives a fairly well balanced tale of a President's wife who was often depressed, angry, compulsively shopping for the White House or personal items, and grief stricken with her son's and husband's deaths. One of the most interesting periods came after the death of Abraham Lincoln when Mary Todd was on a campaign to get support as the former President's wife, especially since she was in great debt because of her massive spending sprees.

    Life for freedman, through Elizabeth's eyes, before abolishment of slavery, was especially interesting. Also,the roll of 'colored people' trying to enlist in the army, plus the result of hoards of newly freed slaves coming into Washington with nothing to keep them alive, nor any means to support themselves, was even more interesting. Elizabeth's life and actions, as a real person in history, made for fascinating reading as she interacted with Mrs. Lincoln as well as her own people. Excellent reading for everyone wanting a balanced accounting of that period of history!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    budsmom Baltimore, MD 04-03-13
    budsmom Baltimore, MD 04-03-13 Member Since 2013

    Mystery Maven

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    57
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "New point of view"
    What made the experience of listening to Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker the most enjoyable?

    The narrator did a great job with all the different character's, both male and female. Cadance and rhythm of voice was even and easy to listen to. The book itself is very well written with great detail and visual information, making you feel as if you were there.


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

    I hate to state the obvious, but the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. Not the shooting itself but the reaction of Mrs. Lincoln for weeks/months after. It was very sad to witness her grief through Mrs. Keckley's eyes and point of view.


    Which character – as performed by Christina Moore – was your favorite?

    Although Mrs. Keckley is the narrator of the story, I found Mrs. Lincoln fascinating. It didn't depict her as "crazy" as we usually hear but as a very insecure, lonely character who deeply loved her husband and who had already lost 2 of her sons before her husband. Her best and only friend was Mrs. Keckley, her freed African American dressmaker. I got the impression that she trusted very few people and would push others away before she could get hurt. That explained a lot of her manic/depressive behavior.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not extreme. I just enjoyed it and found I missed hearing it after it was over. I was surprised by the ending. I also was very surprised how the entire country turned their back on Mrs. Lincoln after her husband's death. That was sad too.


    Any additional comments?

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book-story, narrator, delivery.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-26-13
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-26-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    607
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    512
    98
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    50
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good mix of fiction and history"

    Who knew that at the time of great contention over slavery that Mary Lincoln's best friend was an African American seamstress? This book was obviously well researched and included a good bit of the author's imagination, a combination which made for an outstanding novel. While most of this author's books have been designed for quilters, this novel will appeal to a broader audience. Really enjoyed this one and may listen to it again.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Charlotte, NC, United States 03-04-13
    Melissa Charlotte, NC, United States 03-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Wonderful Re-Imagining of Mrs. Keckley's Life"
    If you could sum up Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker in three words, what would they be?

    Vivid
    Detailed
    Fast-paced


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mrs. Lincoln was my favorite character in this story. I knew so little of her story after her husband was assassinated and she left the White House. So much of her misery was of her own making, but the disrespect with which she was treated after President Lincoln's murder was completely unnecessary. Her legacy has been much maligned by people who did not know her, or people who did know her that were jealous of her. The fact that she struggled in such a human way with her grief. . . not only of her husband's murder, but also the deaths of her two sons. . . was poignant and deeply touching. I'm not sure that I would have been able to act any differently had it been my husband and son.


    Have you listened to any of Christina Moore’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    n/a


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was struck by the moment in which President Lincoln addressed the crowds in the evening after the war's conclusion from the White House window. The comment that he could be shot by anyone in the crowd made me think about how accessible he was the people and how that is so different from today.


    Any additional comments?

    This is definitely a story based in historical documents, so if you are not interested in the details, this is not the story for you. However, I will say that so much of whether I like an audiobook is based on how well I like the performer, and you cannot go wrong with Christina Moore's characterization of people in this story. It is subtle, beautifully done, and not overwrought.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lazeth Maumelle, AR, United States 03-12-13
    Lazeth Maumelle, AR, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat R 02-08-13
    Pat R 02-08-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I couldn't get through it"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I usually enjoy historical fiction, but it was very slow and monotone. I had to listen to the same chapter three times, as my interest kept wanning


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Third Bullet


    What didn’t you like about Christina Moore’s performance?

    very slow-monotone,


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    the concept for the story is good-may be better in paper


    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrlee Florida 05-02-14
    Carrlee Florida 05-02-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just an OK read"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The description of this story led me to believe that it would be an engaging, insightful story about Mrs. Lincoln and her dressmaker. It felt more like a very long lecture in a history class. There were way too many facts and not enough storytelling. The characters lacked a true connection and though the story seemed thoroughly researched, it didn't keep my attention. I finished it simply because I bought it, not because I was really interested in it.


    If you’ve listened to books by Jennifer Chiaverini before, how does this one compare?

    First one I've read and probably my last.


    What about Christina Moore’s performance did you like?

    Always enjoy Christina Moore. She is a fantastic narrator.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer BRUNSWICK, OH, United States 05-29-14
    Amazon Customer BRUNSWICK, OH, United States 05-29-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Marie L. Pennsylvania, United States 02-21-14
    Marie L. Pennsylvania, United States 02-21-14 Member Since 2011

    Avid reader, history buff, mom, professional.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Riveting, Compelling, Heartbreaking, Amazing"
    Would you listen to Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker again? Why?

    Yes - Elizabeth Keckly's story is riveting, amazing - and true. I did not know the 'Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker' is rooted the story of an amazing women in one of the United States' darkest times.


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

    Twelve Years a Slave.


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

    Christina Moore articulates each character effectively, narrating Chiavarini's Elizabeth Keckly with dignity and drama. Her firm tone and wonderful pace made made the story one I could not put down, and I walked and drove worked with this story in my ear, unwilling to let it go until story's end.


    If you could rename Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, what would you call it?

    Needle in the Whitehouse


    Any additional comments?

    'Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker' inspired me to my next read, Elizabeth Keckley's own memoir.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Crownsville, MD, United States 12-26-13
    Connie Crownsville, MD, United States 12-26-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    86
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mrs. Keckley knew the Lincolns!"

    Civil War, backstabbing cabinet, difficult wife, dying children.... If I could invite 10 people, living or dead, to dinner, Mr. Lincoln would certainly be one of them and Elizabeth Keckley loved him too. She is the subject of this book and was an intimate member of the Lincoln White House and visited there frequently. I am so impressed with her accomplishments and her ability to navigate the Lincolns' life and many other high level Washingtonians at this time in history. She was clearly an extraordinary woman, if somewhat naive, and I am happy that Jennifer Chiaverini took the time to research and evaluate her importance in the Lincolns' lives. If you are a student of history, especially the Lincolns, you will love this book. The narrator, Christina Moore, is really good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 23 results PREVIOUS123NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.