Book 7 of my 2017 Reading Challenge
read from January 13 - 21
Mrs. Lincoln's Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini
Summary (via the book jacket)
Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights.
Thrice widowed, Chase found himself at a disadvantage without a wife to host social gatherings crucial to influence-building. Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into this role, establishing a salon at the Chase home that launched a father-daughter partnership bent on achieving the presidency. For her efforts, the Washington Star declared her "the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her."
None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common - political acumen, love of country, and a resolute determination to help the men they loved achieve greatness - they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy, young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.
The intertwining public lives of these two women never failed to inspire headlines, but the true and lasting influence each wrought in private makes, in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini's skilled telling, for an even more fascinating story. Mrs. Lincoln's Rival is an astute and lively novel of the politics of state - whether enacted in houses of government of the family homes of its leaders - set against the vibrant backdrop of Civil War Era Washington.
Ho hum. I really don't have anything positive or negative to say about this book. The fact that it took me 8 days to read this speaks for itself; the pages turned slowly. The author's note at the end with the updates on how Kate's life turned out was the most interesting part to me and I would've read an entire book on her marriage/divorce.
Part of the problem was I felt the title is misleading so that threw me off from the start. There really isn't much about Mrs. Lincoln at all and I didn't get a sense of the rivalry they apparently had. However, the author obviously did a lot of research and I appreciated the little details and accuracy about the time period.
I would read this author again but in the end, this book just wasn't for me.
A Quote from the Book
"[Kate] had not sought a rivalry with Mrs. Lincoln, but from the moment Mrs. Lincoln had made it her ambition to put Kate in her place, their roles had been cast, their course set. Now Kate would never defer to Mrs. Lincoln, never acknowledge her as her social superior. Kate did not have the White House - at least, not yet - but she did have her pride. In lieu of the title First Lady, for the moment she would accept Belle of Washington - and let Mrs. Lincoln try to claim that for herself if she could."