In 1844, shy Missouri Belle Julia Dent met Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant, a brilliant horseman and reluctant soldier. The two fell deeply in love, but four years passed before Julia's father permitted them to wed. The groom's abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.
Despite her new husband's objections, Julia kept as her slave another Julia, known as Jule. Since childhood they had been companions and confidantes; Julia was gifted with prophetic dreams, which Jule helped her interpret. Julia secretly taught Jule how to read, while Jule became her vision-impaired mistress's eyes to the world. But beneath the gathering clouds of war, the stark distinctions between mistress and slave inevitably strained and altered their tenuous friendship.
As Ulysses rose through the ranks of the Union army during the Civil War, he often summoned Julia and their four children to join him at military headquarters. The general's wife rarely failed to bring her favorite maid along, tearing Jule from her own beloved husband, whom she had secretly married in defiance of the law. Both women risked certain danger as they travelled to and from the field of war, but for Jule the hazards of travel also brought knowledge and opportunity.
Even as Julia Grant championed the Union cause and advocated for suffering women on both sides of the brutal conflict, she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind federal lines - until the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation inspired Jule to make a daring bid for freedom. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle the singular relationship between these two remarkable women, bound by light and shadow.
Praise for Jennifer Chiaverini and her novels
'History - and its colourful characters - come alive.' USA Today on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
'A must-read book . . . Chiaverini has a knack for finding fascinating, if unheralded, women in history - she favors the Civil War era - and shining a light on them with readable historical novels.' New York Post on The Spymistress
'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.' Bookreporter.com on Mrs. Lincoln's Rival
'Jennifer Chiaverini imagines the First Lady's most private affairs through the eyes of an unlikely confidante.' Harper's Bazaar on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
'Jennifer Chiaverini's latest bestseller will thrill Civil War buffs and anyone who loves reading about American history and the contributions of women to the momentous events that formed this country.' Bookreporter.com on The Spymistress
'In addition to simply being fascinating stories, Jennifer Chiaverini's novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Mrs. Lincoln's Rival