Mary Todd Lincoln is by far one of the most interesting First Ladies there has ever been. Over one hundred years later and there is no question who she was or what she was like. Mrs. Lincoln had a unique relationship with her modiste, Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, who was the Versace of her time. I have always been fascinated by this relationship, and though I have read a great deal about Mary Lincoln, little has been read (by me) of Keckley. "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker" by Jennifer Chiaverini is my first book written about the dressmaker herself.
"Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker" follows Elizabeth from the beginning of the first term through to her death. Most of it focuses on Lincoln's time in office and her relationship with Mary. Mary is exuberant to say the least. I would not call her crazy but rather an attention seeker. Too passionate for one body. I usually felt a little sorry for Robert Lincoln. Elizabeth gets caught up in the drama created by Mary and for some reason thinks it would be a good idea to write a book about her life, including the Lincoln years. That didn't work out too well and ended the long term friendship with the First Lady. This novel is very well written and the relationship with the two women is so inviting to the reader. The only fault I found was that I wanted to know more about what was going on in Elizabeth's head; but granted, Mary's head was probably more interesting. I really liked this book and highly recommend it. I received this book for free from Penguin Publishing.