Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray
Dorothy Love
(Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-0718042448
June 2016/400 pages/$15.99

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.


Born in the middle of the twentieth century, Dorothy Love is certain she arrived on Planet Earth a hundred years too late. An avid scholar of 19th century American history, she spends most of her time poking through museums, reading dusty books, and studying the journals of the Victorian-era women whose lives inspire her Southern historical novels.

She prefers a fountain pen to a computer keyboard, print books to digital downloads, and face to face conversations to 140 character tweets. Though she admits that modern technology makes it easier to stay in touch with her readers, whenever possible she avoids automated phone systems, online banking, and booking her own airline tickets. When she’s not busy researching or writing books or avoiding technology, she enjoys teaching at writers conferences. She is a former associate writer in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. She has taught at dozens of writers conferences nationwide including the Florida First Coast Writers Conference, the Columbus Ohio Writers Conference, the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the graduate program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and was a featured author on the Writer to Writer series for Florida Public Television.

Dorothy 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.

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Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray is an engrossing novel on several levels. The primary focus, of course, of the relationship between Mary and Selina, provides insight into the complexity of the Southern culture in the 1800's. Mary and Selina's friendship and dependence on one another intrigued me, and Selina's loyalty in the face of her realization of the limits to Mary's friendship revealed her true loyalty and integrity. I previously knew nothing about General Robert E. Lee's wife, or her connection to President George Washington, and I was fascinated by this aspect of the story. In today's climate when some are removing statues, renaming schools, and attempting to erase this era from our nation's history, it is important that individuals such as Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray are not forgotten, as they were real individuals, flawed but authentic, and part of the fabric of our nation. Don't miss this compelling story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from The Fiction Guild at Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Diana Ferguson said...

You do a great job! I don't get to pop in as much as I use to but keep it up.

Beth said...

Sounds intriguing. I will have to read this one soon.