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Review- Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini

mrs grantMrs. Grant and Madame Jule
Published by The Penguin Group
Historical Women’s Fiction
Setting – Various
Release Date – March 3, 2015
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0525954293
E-Book ASIN: B00SA4ZU94


In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.

Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world.

And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side.

Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb.

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle this singular relationship, bound by sight and shadow.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Marriage is a partnership and that theme blooms within the pages of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule. When Julia Dent met Ulysses S Grant her life changed forever. A whole new world opened to her as he looked beyond her flaws and took her into his life. She followed him around the country as his military career prospered and slowly realized that all women no matter the color of their skin should be equal but it was too late as her maid Jule has run away several years earlier.

The Grant’s life is well chronicled but her maid Jules life in this story was created by the author. I am sure the research for a novel like this is immense. To fictionalize it like this must be very difficult but Chiaverini brings it all together in a way that captures a love story while portraying life at the time of civil war for those embroiled in the battles.

I enjoyed reading Jules part of the story but this was the story of Julia Dent Grant. Another slave, Gabriel, was very important to Jule but he was sold by Julia’s father and he left the pages of the story until the very end of the book. I wish we could have followed his travels as well.

Jennifer Chiaverini has written a few of these Civil War era stories and she covers the people and the battles very well. I totally had a different picture in my head of the type of man Ulysses S Grant was. In this account he was a strong military man but he was also a very strong family man and made sure to spend as much time with his family as possible, even  taking his son with him into battle. We never learn about the people when studying history in school, it is all dates, battles and proclamations.

The story is also relevant today as we still are facing civil right issues so many years later. There are lessons to learn from out past, important lessons. Tolerance, acceptance, respect, forgiveness, working together toward what is good for the many not just a few.

I look forward to more stories like this, shining light on important females in U.S. history.

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About This Author

Jennifer Chiaverini lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to the sixteen volumes in the Elm Creek Quilts series and four books of quilt patterns inspired by the novels, she designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric line from Red Rooster Fabrics. For more information about Jennifer, please visit her website at .

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”