Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray tells the story of Mary Anna Custis Lee and Selena Norris Gray. Mary is the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, and the only living child of George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis. She lives with her parents at the family home, Arlington. Selina is one of Arlington’s slaves, the daughter of Leonard and Sally Norris. The story is told, alternately, in each woman’s point of view, sometimes allowing the reader to see an event through the eyes of Mary and Selina both.
I really enjoyed reading this, and thought the writing was excellent. I have a fondness for historical fiction, and American history is an area of particular interest for me, as well. I’d never heard of Selina Gray before reading this book, which is astounding considering what she did. Left in charge of Arlington after Mary and her children fled their home after the start of the Civil War, it was Selina who prevented the loss of all the George Washington heirlooms hidden inside the house.
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Dorothy Love, but I’m interested in reading more of her work in the future.
Author: Dorothy Love
Title: Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 14th 2016 by Thomas Nelson Fiction
About the Book
A general’s wife and a slave girl forge a friendship that transcends race, culture, and the crucible of Civil War.
Mary Anna Custis Lee is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and heiress to Virginia’s storied Arlington house and General Washington’s personal belongings.
Born in bondage at Arlington, Selina Norris Gray learns to read and write in the schoolroom Mary and her mother keep for the slave children and eventually becomes Mary’s housekeeper and confidante. As Mary’s health declines, Selina becomes her personal maid, strengthening a bond that lasts until death parts them.
Forced to flee Arlington at the start of the Civil War, Mary entrusts the keys to her beloved home to no one but Selina. When Union troops begin looting the house, it is Selina who confronts their commander and saves many of its historic treasures.
In a story spanning crude slave quarters, sunny schoolrooms, stately wedding parlors, and cramped birthing rooms, novelist Dorothy Love amplifies the astonishing true-life account of an extraordinary alliance and casts fresh light on the tumultuous years leading up to and through the wrenching battle for a nation’s soul.
A classic American tale, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray is the first novel to chronicle this beautiful fifty-year friendship forged at the crossroads of America’s journey from enslavement to emancipation.
About the Author
Dorothy Love is an award-winning Texas-based author who brings her love of history to her fiction writing in well-researched novels depicting the lives of 19th century American women.
Her latest novel, MRS LEE AND MRS GRAY illuminates the remarkable friendship between Mrs. Robert E Lee and Selina Norris Gray, a servant born into slavery at Arlington. The discovery of an 1872 letter from Mrs Gray to Mrs Lee became the catalyst for this compelling story of loyalty and courage that defied personal tragedies and the tumult of the Civil War.
Known for her historical novels of mystery and suspense that reviewers have called “beautiful” and “memorable” Dorothy has taken on a new challenge, painstakingly reconstructing a lost world in biographical fiction that touches readers’ minds and hearts.
She enjoys traveling with her husband, collecting antique ephemera, and playing Frisbee with Jake, the couple’s golden retriever. A native Southerner, she currently lives in the Texas hill country.
Author photo and bio via author’s website.