Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie
by Jennifer Chiaverini
“Mrs. Grant & Madame Julie” by Jennifer Chiaverini is historical fiction based on the life of Mrs. Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, and her slave Jule. A Missouri belle, Julie Grant rose to the pinnacle of Washington society as First Lady. Unbeknownst to Grant’s abolitionist followers Julie and Jule were together for 37 years. During the Civil War, Julie would travel with Jule and their four children to be near her husband’s side. However, Julie and Jule saw two different wars. Even though Julie was speaking out for women’s rights, she was still secretly keeping Jule as a slave. Once the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Jule claimed her freedom and became a very successful businesswoman.
Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, 2014, etc.) continues her series of domestic novels detailing the lives of women orbiting President Abraham Lincoln’s political sphere. While a lot has been written about The Grants, hardly anything has been written about Jule. This book is the imagining of what life would have been like between to the two women in the midst of the Civil War era. Jennifer Chiaverini, as always, does a wonderful job constructing the story of Julie and Jule’s relationship. It is a thought provoking read, with great insight into what may have been happening behind closed doors in such a prominent family. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a Civil War setting and strong female characters.
Disclaimer: I received Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books.
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