Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TLC Book Tour: Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini

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. (Goodreads)

I went though a bit of a CIvil War and Lincoln kick last year when the movie came out. I started to read Team of Rivals by Goodwin, watched the Ken Burns documentary on the War and of course, saw the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day Lewis. I'm still intrigued with that time period and that is why I signed on to do this tour. Mary Todd Lincoln is a pretty intense figure in her own right and I was curious to read a bit more about her, confident in Chiaverini's writing to depict her as close as research will offer.

It read pretty quickly. You get swept up in the political time and the relationships between all the characters. I loved reading about the dressmaking as well and how intricate and beautiful it was.

Keckley proved to be just as an interesting character as Mrs. Lincoln. I knew nothing about her before this and it was intriguing to read about her role, as a dressmaker and as a freed woman. 

This story brings just as much warmth, detail and character as does Chiaverini's quilt books. I recommend for fans of her and also historical fiction fans.

Author Info:

Other Stops on the Tour:

Monday, November 18th:  BookNAround
Tuesday, November 19th:  Always With a Book  **book spotlight and giveaway
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
Friday, December 6th:  West Metro Mommy Reads
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

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Tales of Whimsy said...

Interesting. I love the cover.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I love discovering history through the eyes of the people who lived it so I know I'll enjoy this book. Thanks for being on the tour.

Lindsey said...

This sounds like a great read. I will have to pick this one up, since I'm a descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln! :)

Lisa said...

Glad you enjoyed this one more than I dd. I got bogged down when it came to the dressmaking details, kind of took me out of the flow of the book. I was surprised to find out that Keckley was a real person.