Happy (belated) Independence Day to all the readers out there! I hope you had something fun planned for the day.
Readers of women’s fiction and historical fiction will want to pay attention to this week’s Port Pick. In a fourth historical fiction novel author Jennifer Chiaverini presents Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule. As the title implies this story is based on the life of the wife of Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant. Julia Dent met Ulysses Grant in 1844 and fell in love but the couple waited four years for approval from Julie’s family before marrying. Julie’s family owned slaves and Ulysses’ abolitionist family disapproved so much that none of the groom’s family attended the wedding. Despite her new husband’s objections Julie kept one slave after she married, another woman named Julie, called Jule.
During the war Ulysses called his wife and family to his side many times, which was risky enough for a free woman, but nearly insurmountable for a female slave. These trips also meant a separation from her husband for Jule, who had secretly married in defiance of the law. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation gave Jule the courage she needed to make a bid for freedom and from then on out the book tells mostly the story of Julie and Ulysses relationship.
If you’re looking for historical fiction that relies more on the fiction than the history, then this book is for you. Readers who rely on accounts closer to the truth may want to try The General’s Wife by Ishbel Ross, a factual biography about the former first lady.
You can get the book reviewed here and more great titles to watch, read, listen to, or play with at the Port Library at 1718 N. Hersey in Beloit. This is director Rachel Malay, saying “Thanks for checking us out!”