Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule

Dutton. Mar. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780525954293. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698161382. F
With her stand-alone Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, the author of the "Elm Creek Quilts" series proved her ability to weave an engrossing novel that seamlessly entwines history and fiction. However, this volume, which purports to be the story of Julia Dent Grant and her childhood maid, Jule, is titled misleadingly. Although it somewhat chronicles the childhoods of both girls and follows Julia though her marriage to Ulysses S. Grant and widowhood, it is much more a novel about Grant, chronicling in great detail the general's Civil War campaigns, his presidency, private troubles, and death. To be sure, Julia accompanies him throughout, but this does not read like her story. Still Chiaverini's eye for detail coupled with an ability to breathe life into her characters ensures an engrossing period piece that does not fail to both entertain and inform.
VERDICT Fans of Civil War fiction and readers who enjoyed the author's other historicals will find this title absorbing. [See Prepub Alert, 9/22/14.]

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