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Mrs. Lincoln's Rival

Review

Mrs. Lincoln's Rival

In 1861, Kate Chase accompanied her father, politician Salmon P. Chase, from their home state of Ohio to Washington, D.C., filled with hope that he would be appointed to the cabinet of the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. Neither would be disappointed.

Salmon and Kate, already closely acquainted with the inner workings of politics from his time as the Governor of Ohio and years as a United States Senator, knew how to take their place in D.C. In spite of the fact that he had made an unsuccessful bid to secure the Republican nomination for president, losing to Mr. Lincoln, Salmon was determined to throw his full support behind the new president.

"Filled with details of the social intrigue, slights and innuendo that occurred between the two, the book will appeal to anyone who loves a novel filled with the appearance of numerous fictional accounts of and appearances by the figures who shaped America's history during the period of the Civil War."

Before their journey, Kate had already spent years in training as her father's right-hand woman and made a name for herself as a successful hostess and socialite in their native state of Ohio. Left without a mother at the age of five when hers passed away, she had stepped seamlessly into the position of her father's social companion as soon as she returned home from school in New York City.

When Kate and Salmon journeyed to D.C, Kate had high hopes that she would become a friend and confidante to the new First Lady. At their first meeting, however, Mary Todd Lincoln made it clear that she considered Kate the competition instead of an ally. Setting the tone for the rest of their relationship, Mrs. Lincoln ensured by her behavior that Kate would forever be the opposition.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Lincoln, she could have used the tutelage of the younger woman to advance her own social position in D.C. Frequently mocked and ridiculed behind her back, Mrs. Lincoln never achieved the success as a hostess that came so easily to Kate. Kate became known as the "Belle of Washington" due to her superior social skills, while the First Lady was found lacking in every comparison between the two women.

Kate chose simplicity in dress and jewelry, party due to her personal taste and partly due to necessary economies on her father's part, while Mrs. Lincoln wore expensive clothing, too much jewelry and a plethora of flowers in her hair. None of these fashions flattered the older woman, serving only to make her a laughingstock. Kate came off as kind and caring, while the First Lady was seen as petty, jealous and too concerned with the opinions of others.

While in Washington, Kate met and eventually married her future husband, Rhode Island Governor William Sprague, during the course of the Civil War. Much to Mrs. Lincoln's chagrin, the wedding was the social event of the season. In spite of his wife's absence from the event, President Lincoln attended.

MRS. LINCOLN'S RIVAL provides a fascinating account of the rivalry between the two most powerful women in Washington during President Lincoln's time in office. Filled with details of the social intrigue, slights and innuendo that occurred between the two, the book will appeal to anyone who loves a novel filled with the appearance of numerous fictional accounts of and appearances by the figures who shaped America's history during the period of the Civil War.

Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 24, 2014

Mrs. Lincoln's Rival
by Jennifer Chiaverini

  • Publication Date: January 14, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 0525954287
  • ISBN-13: 9780525954286