I know this is a fictional story, but it read more like a diary of these two fascinating women. Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray both lived in real life and they certainly lived vibrantly inside the pages of this book. Told in first person, the book sweeps readers through several decades alongside Mary and Selina. I loved the way the historical facts were woven around the fictional parts. It felt very real and realistic to me, almost like I’d stepped back in time myself.
The various settings were rich and colorful, especially Arlington. By the end of the book, I found myself as sentimental and attached to the home as Mary was herself. I hope to visit there in person some day.
At times, I will admit, the story seemed rather slow. Some of the daily activities of the women grew tedious and repetitious to read. Since the story covers so much of their lives during a difficult era, there were several moments of loss and heartache. There were light moments, but overall the story felt sad and rather bittersweet to me.
At other times, we almost seemed to jump too quickly through certain scenes and years, where I would have liked to linger and read more details. In many ways, it read like a biography of their experiences.
With that being said, I still enjoyed the tale and thought it offered a fresh and unique perspective to these women of history. It even brought me to tears more than once. Historical fans, I encourage you to look this one up!
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild for my copy.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
A general’s wife and a slave girl forge a friendship that transcends race, culture, and the crucible of Civil War.
Mary Anna Custis Lee is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and heiress to Virginia’s storied Arlington house and General Washington’s personal belongings.
Born in bondage at Arlington, Selina Norris Gray learns to read and write in the schoolroom Mary and her mother keep for the slave children and eventually becomes Mary’s housekeeper and confidante. As Mary’s health declines, Selina becomes her personal maid, strengthening a bond that lasts until death parts them.
Forced to flee Arlington at the start of the Civil War, Mary entrusts the keys to her beloved home to no one but Selina. When Union troops begin looting the house, it is Selina who confronts their commander and saves many of its historic treasures.
In a story spanning crude slave quarters, sunny schoolrooms, stately wedding parlors, and cramped birthing rooms, novelist Dorothy Love amplifies the astonishing true-life account of an extraordinary alliance and casts fresh light on the tumultuous years leading up to and through the wrenching battle for a nation’s soul.
A classic American tale, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray is the first novel to chronicle this beautiful fifty-year friendship forged at the crossroads of America’s journey from enslavement to emancipation.
Dorothy Love is an award-winning Texas-based author who brings her love of history to her fiction writing in well-researched novels depicting the lives of 19th century American women.
Her latest novel, MRS LEE AND MRS GRAY illuminates the remarkable friendship between Mrs. Robert E Lee and Selina Norris Gray, a servant born into slavery at Arlington. The discovery of an 1872 letter from Mrs Gray to Mrs Lee became the catalyst for this compelling story of loyalty and courage that defied personal tragedies and the tumult of the Civil War.
Known for her historical novels of mystery and suspense that reviewers have called “beautiful” and “memorable” Dorothy has taken on a new challenge, painstakingly reconstructing a lost world in biographical fiction that touches readers’ minds and hearts.
She enjoys traveling with her husband, collecting antique ephemera, and playing Frisbee with Jake, the couple’s golden retriever. A native Southerner, she currently lives in the Texas hill country.
You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at http://dorothylovebooks.com/.