Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/01/mrs-lincolns-dressmaker.html
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. She lived as a slave for over 30 years. She was able to purchase her freedom, and she headed north. She eventually settled in Washington DC and became the mantua maker for the wives of the politicians in the area. She received an introduction to Mary Todd Lincoln and based on her skill, became Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker.
More than that, she became Mary Todd Lincoln's friend starting from when Abraham Lincoln was elected president through the Civil War through Lincoln's assassination and beyond. It is through this vantage point that this book tells the story of this time in our history.
Prior to reading this book, I was not aware of Elizabeth Keckley or that she penned a controversial autobiography titled Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. This autobiography was in effect the cause of her estrangement from Mary Lincoln.
The book Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker purports to be historical fiction, but it reads more like history. Fascinating history about a critical period for our country, but history nevertheless. I found the focus of the book to be the history with Elizabeth's story providing a running theme through it. I wish it had been the other way around - Elizabeth' story told with greater emotion and feeling with the history providing a background.
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