Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
by Chiaverini, Jennifer






Chosen as the personal modiste for Mary Todd Lincoln, freedwoman Elizabeth Keckley is drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family as she supports Mary in the loss of her husband from the assassination that stunned the nation and the world. 150,000 first printing.





JENNIFER CHIAVERINI is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt projects inspired by the novels. Her original quilt designs have been featured inCountry Woman, Quiltmaker, and Quilt, and her short stories have appeared inQuiltmaker and Quilters Newsletter. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.





Chiaverini's latest is based on the true story of Elizabeth Keckley, who bought freedom from slavery for herself and her son and went on to become a well-known modiste in Washington. Keckley had a front-row seat to history: she dressed Washington's A-list, including Jefferson Davis' wife before they left D.C., and, most intimately, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln is mercurial, scheming, extravagant, and troubled, but Elizabeth stands by her as she is lambasted in the press. Long stretches of battle history and descriptions of Lincoln's political rivals lag, while more time spent on Elizabeth's work with newly freed slaves in D.C. would have been welcome. Still, Elizabeth Keckley is an admirable heroine-successful, self-made, and utterly sympathetic. Readers of the Elm Creek Quilt series who have enjoyed Chiaverini's narrative jaunts into Civil War and Underground Railroad history will be interested in Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker-and there is even a little bit of quilting in the story. This is also a good choice for readers of Christian historical fiction, as both Elizabeth's and Mr. Lincoln's faiths are important elements in shaping their characters. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.





From the intimate domestic circles of the political elite, a dressmaker witnesses the upheavals of 19th-century America. Chiaverini (The Giving Quilt, 2012, etc.) sets aside her Elm Creek Quilts series for this historical novel about Elizabeth Keckley. Drawing upon the rich milieu of Civil War America, as well as Keckley's own memoir (published in 1868 as Behind the Scenes), Chiaverini weaves the story of a woman who lived as both slave and freedwoman. Elizabeth learns her trade by making clothes for her fellow slaves, and once freed, she plies her needle so skillfully that the wives of Republicans and Democrats clamor for her designs. Varina, the second wife of Jefferson Davis, even seeks to take Elizabeth with her to Montgomery when the South secedes and her husband becomes president of the Confederacy. Despite her desire to journey with Varina, Elizabeth decides to stay in Washington, since traveling further South will erase most of her freedoms. Her decision leads to her new position as Mary Todd Lincoln's modiste. Elizabeth not only designs and sews Mary's clothes, but she also arranges her hair, helps her dress, cares for her children at times and becomes her confidante. As others nearly shun Mary for her extravagances during wartime, not to mention her mercurial personality, she relies more and more heavily upon Elizabeth. Their relationship affords an interesting perspective for viewing the cultural and social turmoil of the times, for no matter how much Elizabeth is respected for her skills and no matter how intimately Mary trusts her with her confidences, Elizabeth remains a former slave, and she must be reminded of her place. While the backdrop is strikingly vivid, Chiaverini's domestic tale dawdles too often in the details of dress fittings and quilt piecings, leaving Elizabeth's emotional terrain glimpsed but not traveled. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2018 Follett School Solutions