BOOKSWedded to War is the first book in the new Heroines Behind the Lines series by Jocelyn Green. This fiction book follows Charlotte Waverly, a young well-to-do lady from New York, as she joins the Sanitary Commission as one of the first female nurses to the Union Army. This historical fiction was well researched and written, and I enjoyed learning more about how the Sanitary Commission began, its purpose in helping collect and distribute much needed supplies, and its efforts to improve the conditions of hospitals and camps.
I downloaded Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, And Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley to my Kindle (free, although I don't remember how I heard about it). This book was written by Mrs. Abraham Lincoln's dressmaker and was originally published in 1868. Mrs. Keckley wrote about her life as a slave, purchasing her and her son's freedom, moving to Washington, and establishing her own business as a dressmaker. She shared a behind-the-scenes look at life in the White House for President and Mrs. Lincoln. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and her desire to show Mrs. Lincoln in a more positive light than the negativity Mrs. Lincoln often garnered in the press.
At the same time, I discovered that my friend Ellyn was reading a brand new historical fiction book - Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. We exchanged books, and I was delighted that this very well researched and written book filled in many of the gaps left in Mrs. Keckley's original story as it included more information about what was happening outside the White House - the Civil War, debates on emancipation, Lincoln's re-election and subsequent assassination.
Chickamauga Battlefield. We were able to drive through the battlefield where there are numerous monuments and cannons lining the roads. Robbie's brother had done some research and discovered that one of their ancestors had fought in this battle as part of the 38th Ohio Infantry, so after getting directions to the general area from the helpful park rangers, we searched for and found the monument to that division.
A MOVIELincoln movie when it first premiered last fall and had ordered the DVD for our collection. After reading these books and visiting these sites over the summer, I had to watch it again so I could pay attention to how Mrs. Keckley was portrayed (because I didn't remember her in the movie) and watch the reactions in Washington as news of the various battles came in. In the movie, Mrs. Keckley appeared more as one of the White House servants, but now that I was familiar with her story, I had a better picture of how she fit into the picture and also knew that some of the scenes were probably adaptations of interactions she shared in her book (like conversations between President and Mrs. Lincoln that she would have witnessed as she was helping Mrs. Lincoln dress and prepare for an event). If you haven't seen this movie, we highly recommend it!
I have to admit that I really enjoyed my history review and the new lessons I learned about the Civil War over the summer and will be watching for more opportunities to study a subject in a variety of ways (books, movies, travel, etc). What have you learned or reviewed in a new way lately?