Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Today I am spotlighting Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival by Jenner Chiaverini
The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Jennifer Chiaverini, reveals the famous First Lady’s very public social and political contest with Kate Chase Sprague, memorialized as "one of the most remarkable women ever known to Washington society." (Providence Journal)
Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights.
Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society and as a future presidential candidate. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her "the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her."
None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common—political acumen, love of country, and a resolute determination to help the men they loved achieve greatness—they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.
Jennifer Chiaverini excels at chronicling the lives of extraordinary yet little known women through historical fiction. What she did for Elizabeth Keckley in Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and for Elizabeth Van Lew in The Spymistress she does for Kate Chase Sprague in Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival.
On the occasion of President Lincoln’s first state dinner, carriages, carts, and hundreds of men on foot crowded the circular drive in front of the White House nearly all the way to Lafayette Square. Kate Chase studied the scene through the window of her father’s carriage, forgetting, for the moment, her misgivings that she was attending the event as a guest rather than playing hostess. The crush of people forced their horses to slow to a walk long before they reached the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson in the center of the driveway, and the tall white columns of the front portico suddenly seemed to be an interminable distance away.
He had been denied the presidency and then the cabinet post that should have been his just reward for his loyalty to the Republican party, his service to the nation, and services to Mr. Lincoln in particular, and yet he did not sulk or lament. Instead he remained faithful to the Lord, devoted to his country, and dedicated to the noble cause of abolition.
So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!