I absolutely loved this book!
Elizabeth Keckly was born into slavery, and gave birth to a beloved son (George) by her white master. She worked hard and saved money to buy freedom for them both by using her exceptional skills as a seamstress. She becomes dressmaker to Mrs. Davis, whose husband will leave Washington to lead the Confederacy during the Civil War. With her connections, Mrs. Davis recommends Elizabeth to her many prosperous friends, and her place as the dressmaker to Washington socialites was a given. When Lincoln became president, his wife soon learned of the reputation of Elizabeth and wanted her to become her dressmaker. Although not an easy person to work for, Elizabeth and the First Lady become very close friends, and remain so for many years. The book sheds light on some of the behind-the-scenes action at the Lincoln White House, and touches on Mary Todd Lincoln's reputed acid tongue, mental instability, and spendthrift ways.
George, who is very light skinned, volunteers to fight in the Civil War, enlisting as a white man. His mother is dismayed at her only son going off to war, but she must keep her feelings to herself as he would be brought up on many federal charges that could lead to a death penalty, had she "outed" him as the son of an African American woman. She suffers in silence.
If you love history, and especial Presidential history, you will enjoy this book. I was quite saddened when it ended. It's well written, well researched, and one of my favorites!
It is interesting to note that Elizabeth Keckly penned her own memoir called Behind the Scenes, or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.
I intend to read that book too.