Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
17
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Presents a fictionalized account of the friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave.
Publisher: New York : Dutton, c2013
ISBN: 9780525953616
0525953612
9780142180358
Characteristics: 356 p. ; 24 cm

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From Library Staff

June 2015


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c
cknightkc
Apr 04, 2017

For lovers of historic fiction, be forewarned, MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER is heavy on the history and much lighter on the fiction. Its subject matter (the friendship between Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, seamstress and former slave, and her patron, Mary Todd Lincoln) is intriguing and has such potential, unfortunately the story suffers in the execution. The telling by author Jennifer Chiaverini is frequently dry and flat with so much listing of Civil War events and leaders I felt I was reading a textbook. It seemed Ms. Chiaverini attempted to emulate the time period’s manner of speaking in her writing and word choice but often it came off as awkward. What I missed was a deep connection to the characters. I was already familiar with many of the details of the Lincoln White House years, but it was interesting to learn what happened to these two women following the President’s assassination, however this isn’t conveyed until the final third of the book and the saga of selling Mrs. Lincoln’s wardrobe goes on way too long. While not awful, MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER is certainly underwhelming, and I can’t help but think it would’ve made for a more powerful and engaging book in the hands of a different author.

t
trudat
Jan 29, 2017

A unique perspective of a tumultuous time in history. I happened to read it over the weekend of Trump's inauguration and first week of his presidency, which added a new level of depth to my ponderings about the White House during the Civil War era. That said, the narrative was drawn out dragged a little slowly at times. I appreciate all that I learned from this book, but doubt I'll be recommending it.

d
dgh1953
Nov 10, 2016

This book was picked for my local book club so I had great hopes for it.
Unfortunately, it is poorly written and I could not develop any empathy for the characters. Got about half way through and decided it wasn't worth finishing.

f
funkycanuck
Aug 02, 2016

Great book to get a perspective of the Civil War from an inside angle. Good read, but I found the ending a tad rushed and unsatisfying.

s
sunnyrea56
Jun 02, 2016

This was a good read. Parts were too "military" for me. But to tell the story perhaps they had to be in there.

c
cemetery613
Jan 02, 2016

Interesting historical biographical fiction. Dragged. Didn't complete reading it. Some of the people in my book club liked it though.

b
breinkeks
Oct 31, 2015

I would give this only a 3 star. Although the subject matter was wonderful, I ordered her actual memoirs and it was almost like this author plagiarized the original work of Elizabeth Keckley. Sorry, I was a bit disappointed in that. was tempted to read Mrs. Lincoln's Rival but found I could learn all I needed to know by Wikipedia.

dralac00 Aug 12, 2014

this book was wonderful~~~l highly recommend it!

t
tea_n_tomes
Jun 27, 2014

I have not read any of the author's previous books; however, i agree with other readers who found this somewhere between fiction & fact. Though it piqued my interest to research this subject.

athompson10 Jan 22, 2014

The history was interesting but the narration of the novel was very dry. It felt like the author just patched together historical facts with excerpts from Elizabeth Keckley's memoir without ever delving into her as a person. Most historical novels take some liberties to imagine what the characters were thinking and what their motivations were for their actions. This one doesn't and suffers for it.

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