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Publisher's Summary

A former slave who became a successful dressmaker with her own business, became the dresser, dressmaker and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln during Abraham Lincoln's presidential adminstration. Behind the Scenes tells the story of the rise of Elizabeth Keckley from abused slave to independent business woman to friend of the First Lady of the land during the Civil War.

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907) was a slave for more than 40 years and became a reknown seamstress, activist and author. The daughter of a house slave and her master, Keckley was taught to read and write, which was illegal and a rare priviledge. But her status did not protect her from a life of work that began at four years old and included severe abuse from her master's wife. After purchasing her freedom as an adult, Keckley moved to Washington DC and her sewing talents soon garnered an impressive clientele of affluent legislators. Keckley's reknown brought her to the attention of Mary Todd Lincoln, and they immediately formed a strong bond. Keckley met Mary Todd Lincoln on the day of Abraham's first inauguration and spent the next 6 years as the personal dressmaker and dresser for the First Lady. They remained close after the Lincolns left Washington. In an unfortunate attempt to help the nearly destitute former first lady, Keckley published her memoirs detailing the private lives of her owners and later the Lincolns. The immediate reaction to Behind the Scenes was catastrophic for Keckley; Mary Todd Lincoln felt betrayed and attacked and refused to speak to her, her elite dressmaking clientele left her and critics everywhere exorciated Keckley for her "honesty". Keckley never fully recovered from the scandal and died alone and destitute.

Public Domain (P)2012 Alcazar AudioWorks

What listeners say about Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

No Southern Accent

Who was your favorite character and why?

Obviously Elizabeth Keckley and her courage in writing the book

How could the performance have been better?

Please! The affected attempt at a Southern accent was REALLY annoying! Would have been a much better read in a different, less fake accent. I am Southern and it was very irritating. Narrator also too dramatic when the tone of the book didn't demand it

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

Yes, if I could.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well presented piece of first person history

The end section in defense of Mrs. Lincoln's actions after the President's death gets a bit bogged down, but it is still a fascinating presentation from behind the scenes.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Interesting read, not a great reader

As a Lincoln fanatic, I loved the "insider information" of this book, which was entirely scandalous when it was first published. For that reason, I enjoyed the book.

That being said, I should have just read the book. I didn't care for the reader, and her strange accent was distracting. Everything was read in a tone of surprise, which wasn't fitting.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What a story!

I was absolutely spellbound and captivated by the story itself, but will have to say that the performance was very distracting. The over the top attempt at doing accents and voices would be more suited to a children’s book. I fear that anyone listening this reading would easily find the story unbelievable simply because of the manner in which it was read. I began listening to another reading of this book on YouTube that was more serious, but decided to find it on Audible so that I could keep my place. The other versions had me envisioning an intelligent, capable, strong woman, but when I switched over to the audible version I found myself thinking her over the top simply because of the way she was presented.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

VERY hard to get into this, very bad narration -

Couldn't the title owner have found both a black woman & a native Southern-dialect speaker? This is so poorly done that I can only hear the forced style of speaking instead of focusing on what's being said. Only a few words in each sentence are 'styled' as someone from the South would say them, but it's a very poor job done of those. I'm only an hour or so into this book, but think I may return it as it's just not what the description lead me to think I'd be hearing. (It reads more like YA) Don't waste your credit!!!

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Didn't want to stop listening!

Very interesting story. Narrator did a great job. I felt like I "knew" the characters by the end of the story.

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Verified Insider View

These eye-witness anecdotes from inside the Lincoln White House are engaging. Researchers use this historically verified work as reference.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Couldn’t stand listening any longer

I believe this is a very important story so I plan to buy the book rather than listen to it. The narrator’s attempt at a slave’s dialect was atrocious and I had to return my audible version. Thank goodness I had that option.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not Believable

What disappointed you about Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House?

Neither Mrs. Keckley or Mrs. Lincoln were particularly likable characters. Beyond that, much of the novel was flat out unbelievable. I also thought it romanticized slavery and painted a picture of tolerance and acceptance toward Blacks that was pure fairytale.

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

Not really

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Understanding

This was a fascinating memoir that sheds clarity on the freed woman dressmaker and her relationship with Mary Todd Lincoln. The narrator did a fabulous job. I felt like I was listening to Mrs Keckley very voice. Worth listening to