"The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincoln's Rival imagines the inner life of Julia Grant, beloved as a Civil War general's wife and the First Lady, yet who grappled with a profound and complex relationship with the slave who was her namesake-until she forged a proud identity of her own. In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom's abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony. Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress's closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia's eyes to the world. And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks-becoming general in chief of the Union Army-so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband's side. Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women-Union and Confederate-she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women's paths continued to cross throughout the Grants' White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant's Tomb. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle this singular relationship, bound by sight and shadow"--
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This is an insightful look at the difficulties presented when a southern belle falls in love with a man of the Union. We see changes brought about in both the North and the South and the free and the slave population. I liked that
The book is written in the same familiar style as her other books. It is like sitting down with an old friend. I feel that this is certainly just as good as her other books!! It was exactly what I would have expected from her!!! If you have the chance read some of her other books as well they are all great!!! I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars!!!
* I received this ebook at no charge from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *
When a young Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant first began courting Julia Dent everyone agreed that they made an unlikely match. He was a northern abolitionist and she was
Ulysses was not fond of this arrangement, but because he loved his wife, he allowed it.
Julia did not see anything wrong with having Jule by her side.
Jule, growing increasingly more aware of the rights of “colored people”, was waiting for an opportune time to run.
This book tells the story of these three historical figures against the backdrop of the Civil War. If one looks at this book as a historical text Ms. Chiaverini does a commendable job of incorporating all the important elements of what was happening in the last half of the 1800’s and introducing her readers to all the pertinent players from President Lincoln on down. At one point or another throughout the book she hits upon the current events of the time either as an accurate accounting or using one generalized event meant to portray any number of similar events of the era. She gives us highlights of Civil War battles without going into reenactment-worthy detail.
Of course, this book is not a historical text it is historical fiction so, although fact based and well researched, Ms. Chiaverini has taken some liberties to make this into the very readable book that it is. As Ms. Chiaverini states in her acknowledgments …
“Many events and people appearing in the historical record have been omitted from this book for the sake of the narrative. Although the lives of Ulysses and Julia Grant are well documented, almost nothing exists about Jule beyond a few brief mentions in Julia Grant’s memoirs. Thus her life as depicted in this story is almost entirely imagined.”
And quite an imagination it is. It was a wonderful story – beautifully told – that even had me a little misty eyed at the end.
This book is the story of a man who refused to ever retrace his steps and kept moving forward to achieve his personal goals and other “goals” thrust upon him.
This is a book is the story of a runaway slave who through grit and determination makes a success of herself in post-emancipation America.
But mostly, this book is the love story of two people who seemed unsuited to each other and yet despite differing political and personal opinions, through a long and bloody war, made it work.
When I read the book description I knew I wanted to read the story of Julia and Jule but somehow it kept being put aside in favor of other books. I finally decided to pluck it off my virtual ereader shelf and start reading. Once I started I did not want to put the book down. I have noticed that Ms. Chiaverini has a few other works of historical fiction centering on figures from the same time period that were on the sidelines in “Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule”. I enjoyed Ms. Chiaverini’s writing of historical fiction so much with this entry that I have already added the others to my TBR list.
Julia Dent grew up in Missouri. Her father was a slave owner. When Julia was
Jule grew up with Julia and learned how to read, write (despite the laws to the contrary), dress hair, and make special concoctions (for hair and skin). Jule was in love with Gabriel, the groom. However, she would not marry him for fear that she would have to leave him when Julia married Ulysses. After Julia marries Jule is told that she will not be going with her mistress. Ulysses has been stationed at a posting where there is no room for servants. Jule had always hoped that when Julia married Ulysses values would rub off on Julia. Jule’s primary goal was her freedom.
The book goes on to describe Ulysses’ career, Julia’s and Ulysses marriage, children, the Civil War, and life in the White House, and their later years. Julia’s views on slaves did not change for a long time. She viewed slaves as necessary to the function of a household and the lifestyle Julia was accustomed to. Julia thought slaves liked having a home provided for them as well as clothes and food despite Jule’s attempts to explain how she felt about slavery.
Jule was lucky enough to run away from Julia during a trip and received help escaping to Washington City (Washington D.C.). Jule found success as a hairdresser as well as making and selling her salves, lotions, and tonics. Jule ended up living her life in Brooklyn, New York.
I have tried to give you a brief (as brief as I get) overview of the book without giving away any spoilers. I give Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule 4.5 stars out of 5. It is a exceptional book with incredible writing, but I did not find it as satisfying as The Elm Creek Quilt series. I also wished the book had written more about Jule. The main focus of the book is Julia and Ulysses Grant. Jennifer Chiaverini is a master storyteller and Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule will keep your eyes riveted to its pages. This book can easily be read without reading the previous three books: Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, and The Spymistress. Ms. Chiaverini’s next book is Christmas Bells: A Novel. It will be released on October 27, 2015 (according to Amazon.com).
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book rather dull, and the writing seemed a little basic. It read more as two separate books, one of which was regurgitating facts from the civil war battles, a topic which is not of any interest to me. I was
The book is much more than the story of Jule and Julia, especially that of "Ulys" and Julia, and of course the war and the battles. But I enjoyed the exploration of Julia's attitude toward slavery, and especially how it eventually evolved.
since the premise of the two women interacting goes pretty flat.
And why? Mrs. Grant remains at heart a southern sympathizer, even to being ready to send a "constable"
to retrieve her family's slave, formerly
venture up north to Ohio from Missouri.
While the Love Conquers All theme was apparently both historical and, as depicted here, fiction,
there is no accounting for how Grant could have fallen for a woman who brings a slave to
accompany them. Why did he not buy her freedom from Julia's cruel father?
And why did Julia chose to be so flagrantly dense and unfeeling?
Jule's reunion with her long lost husband was over-quick and unconvincing,
as was her ongoing refusal to meet with Julia, if only to see if being the wife
of President Grant and a part of his abolitionist family and friends had enlightened her.
At the least, she could have requested an audience with Ulysses and
presented him with some of her famous bottles for his wife.
If I had to limit this book's description to two words, I would call it a historical drama. Typically, I am not a fan of books like this but somehow Jennifer Chiaverini
I felt this book followed Julia more than Jule, but somehow it felt right that there was one star of the show. I would have liked to follow Jule and Gabriel's story a lot more (because I truly felt more attached to those characters than Mr. and Mrs. Grant), but Jennifer decided to follow Julia and her life more actively in the novel. Julia definitely had her flaws since Jennifer made sure to have the character not be the perfect, rich girl. I did appreciate that sentiment, because I'm a little tired of historical novels where the leads are utterly perfect and do no wrong. At times, I did find Julia to be the antagonist more than the protagonist, but that's merely because of her view of the world (which was very typical of the time).
I did not have much background on this book, so it amazed me that Julia and Ulysses Grant were real people! This story is a fictionalized version of their life, but it felt almost real. Due to this book being as interesting as it was, I decided to look up more about Julia and Ulysses Grant. To me, as a reader, I love when a book can open my eyes to a world I didn't realize existed or happened. I am not well versed in American history (since I am Canadian, and my schooling did not involve much of the USA's history), so I'm glad a book like this exists! In my opinion, this book does what I want a book to do - make readers more interested in the topic.
Is this book perfect? No. I felt there was some really slow parts of the book that drove me away from it. That being said, I like constant movement of the plot so the book isn't intended for an audience like me. It's a slow paced book that is about history. I also would have liked to see Julia and Jule interacting more as adults, since the book suggests it is about their relationship. If anything, the misleading title and synopsis are the worst parts of this book. Although, it's a fantastic read and I'd highly recommend it if you love historical fiction, fictionalized stories of real life events, a heartfelt drama, a splash of romance, civil war era books, or American history.
Overall, this book is well written and a nice story. I'd love to read more by Jennifer Chiaverini just to see if she can open my eyes to more historical stories.
Three out of five stars.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.