In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Jennifer Chiaverini tells of the relationship between Mary Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. While Lizzie was born into slavery, her exceptional skills earned her freedom and made her the dressmaker of the highest ranking lady in the USA.
In the process, the two became close friends despite their differences. In fact, the women came to rely heavily on each other in more ways than one. I loved watching their friendship grow and change.
Jennifer Chiaverini really brings Elizabeth Keckley to life. As I hadn’t heard of her before, I did some research and found a picture of her (see below) and she looks fabulous! So strong and proud – and that’s exactly how she was portrayed in this book. I want to add that dressmaking wasn’t all Lizzie did. She was also a civic advocate and was the founder of the Contraband Relief Fund (later changed to the Ladies’ Freedmen and Soldier’s Relief Association) which raised money for food, shelter and clothing for black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. This aspect of her story is also covered in the book.
I really enjoyed the book from start to finish. Jennifer is wonderful with words and the story was a delight to read.