STORY: 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.
A classic American tale, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray is the first novel to chronicle this beautiful fifty-year friendship forged at the crossroads of America’s journey from enslavement to emancipation.
REVIEW: Mary Custis is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis. She has had a wonderful upbringing meeting many important people; learning about the history of her country; and getting a well-rounded education. She is very close to her parents. Her father dedicates his time to keeping papers about his famous grandfather. Her mother works tirelessly keeping the house running smoothly and teaching the slaves to read. While this is not an accepted thing to do, she insists that the slaves learn because her dream is to see them freed and able to take care of themselves.
Selina is a slave for the Custis family. She loves learning to read and being taught by Miss Mary and her mother.
Mary’s good friend, Robert E. Lee, is currently studying at West Point and hopes to join the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They have been childhood playmates. When Lee proposes to Mary, she is so very happy. After their marriage, they settle at Fort Monroe where Robert is assigned. Problems arise when a slave slaughters some white people. Robert and Mary are at odds because he sees her as an abolitionist.
Robert soon gets involved in fighting the Civil War. For their safety, Mary and her children move back to her parent’s home where Selina has become the housekeeper. Many young men are sent to war and provisions become scarce meaning everyone must pitch in to help.
The story follows the children that Mary has and the children that Selina has. The two women remain close during their lifetime and are true friends.
I enjoyed this story very much. It is a good depiction of life in the south and during the war. The slaves were treated well and there is respect of both the owners and the slaves.
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
Connie for b2b