The queen of Civil War-era historical fiction is back with another re-enactment focusing on the character of Mary Lincoln — telling the story through the figures surrounding the first lady. Chiaverini’s admiration for and understanding of the woman and the time are evidenced in several of her other books, notably Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, and, more broadly for the entire Civil War time period, The Spymistress, Fates & Traitors, and Mrs. Grant & Madame Jule.
We tend to hear about first ladies primarily in their time in the White House, but this book focuses on Mary Todd Lincoln as a girl and then in the 1870s, when (after years of public criticism, losing her husband, three of her four sons, and being placed in an insane asylum by her remaining son), she attempts suicide. As in her other books, Chiaverini deftly weaves in multiple voices and different time periods to provide a well-rounded picture of the character, her weaknesses and strengths. It is only near the very end that we actually hear from Mary herself.
Among other things, I learned from researching this entry that Ms. Chiaverini is a Wisconsin author, living just up the road in Madison! Another reason for historical fiction fans to try one of her books! 🙂
Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters
by Jennifer Chiaverini
New Arrivals, 2nd Floor
PS3553 .H473 M77 2020