Published: January 1, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Recommended for readers who like a good deal of History in their Historical Fiction
In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.
The Lincolns are sort of a perennial favorite when it comes to authors, but Jennifer Chiaverini has chosen an unlikely figure from their sphere to bring to life. Elizabeth Keckley was an unusual woman in an unusual time. She was a former slave who bought her own freedom and moved to Washington, D.C. to start her new life. Through her own efforts, she ran a flourishing business, one that would take her to the White House. However, once Mary Todd Lincoln became her client, Elizabeth's fate was tied to hers.
I really enjoyed this novel. Chiaverini did her homework when it came to the research and she does a good job of writing the history in a readable fashion. Re-telling Keckley's life poses some dangers. Keckley made some choices regarding Mrs. Lincoln that many might find odd or co-dependent. However, Chiaverini frames things with enough background for the reader to understand why Keckley makes these choices.
I will say that, at many points, this book reads more like a biography than a Historical Novel. Personally, I liked this. But I also read a lot of non-fictionalized History (and I have a degree in History). I can see how readers who prefer more plot-driven, or "novel-like" Historical novels may not enjoy this.
Still, I found Chiaverini's efforts to give Elizabeth Keckley her due to be successful. This is definitely a book that I would recommend to fans of Historical Fiction.
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I am giving away a paperback copy of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker. For your chance to win, please use the rafflecopter form below. (Giveaway open to US and Canadian addresses). Giveaway is open until 11:59pm Pacific Time on December 13.
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Want to read some other opinions on this book? Visit one of the other stops on the tour! (Links go to the website, not the specific review)
Monday, November 18th: BookNAround
Tuesday, November 19th: Always With a Book **book spotlight and giveaway
Thursday, November 21st: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 21st: Bibliotica
Friday, November 22nd: Books are the New Black
Monday, November 25th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, November 26th: Red Headed Book Child
Wednesday, November 27th: Lit and Life
Friday, November 29th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, December 2nd: Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, December 3rd: Peppermint Ph.D.
Wednesday, December 4th: Must Read Faster
Thursday, December 5th: The Daily Mayo
Monday, December 9th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, December 10th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, December 11th: Bookchickdi
Thursday, December 12th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, December 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings