In February one of my fellow Colorado bloggers over at Starwood Quilter encouraged us to read Jennifer Chiaverini's historical fiction, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker. I found a copy at my local public library and enjoyed reading it during the cold winter evenings in front of the fireplace.
It's just that -- a good read while cozied up under a quilt with maybe a bowl of trail mix within hand's reach. The writing, typical of Ms. Chiaverini, is clean (no steamy bedroom scenes you wish you had not encountered) and decent language. She has written at least 23 novels and is well-known in the quilting world for her Elm Creek Quilts novels.
This story, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, is about Elizabeth Keckley who was born a slave, bought her own freedom, and then proceeded to build a successful dressmaking business that eventually brought her to the White House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
Much Civil War history is covered within these pages, reminding me of information long forgotten since my school days. Many names of famous military and political figures are brought into the story along with some interesting details of their lives, habits, and activities. Perhaps what stood out to me the most was the tragedy of families and friends split apart by that ugly war.
I wanted to read this book to get some understanding of Mary Todd Lincoln. I wanted to know more about the woman who behind the scenes had influence over such a powerful man as Abraham Lincoln. What I learned was interesting reading that brought out strong life lessons (many of them quite harsh), evident by choices she made throughout her life.
Ms. Chiaverini is well-known in the quilting world for her books, her quilting designs, and her line of Red Rooster Fabrics. She is a very accomplished young woman as a writer, designer, and businesswoman, in addition to being married with children.
I recommend Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini to those who enjoy reading historical fiction with themes about sewing, quilting, politics, and matters important to women.