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.
Dorothy Love is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. She has a writing style that I love. In Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray she has topped my expectations of what a well written novel should be.
Told in an alternating point of view, she tells the story of Mary (Mrs. Lee) and Selena (Mrs. Gray). Mary Custis Lee was born into a life of privilege as the great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington. We learn in great detail about the love of Mary’s life, General Robert E. Lee. They had an enduring love even through the many hardships they faced. Long separations that led her to raise their children without him. It made her become more mature and it was interesting to see a different side of her.
Selena Morris (Mrs. Gray) was born into an entirely different life. One of servitude and an eagerness for freedom. I had a great deal of admiration for the inner strength she possessed. She had a warmth to her and I loved her quest for knowledge.
Through the years, the two form a close and enduring friendship based on love and trust. I could see how they would form such a special bond as they seemed to rely on each through the years, especially getting through the horrors of the war and the uncertainties they both faced.
They both were exceptional women with exceptional stories. This is a book that I’ll want to reread.
If you like historical fiction or Christian fiction, this book is one that I recommend.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.