3 out of 4 stars. If you saw Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and wondered about the black woman who sits next to Mary Todd Lincoln (played by Sally Field) up in the Congressional balcony, here's your book. A former slave, Elizabeth Keckley was a remarkably gifted seamstress who established herself in Washington, D.C., in 1860. Thanks to a recommendation from one of her clients, Keckley came to the attention of Mrs. Lincoln. Jennifer Chiaverini conveys Keckley's strength, religious faith, compassion and skill with the needle, qualities that made her invaluable to the unstable, insecure first lady. The dressmaker also became part of the Lincoln family inner circle, and so, through Keckley's eyes, we see Lincoln's presidency. We also see the widowed Mrs. Lincoln's tragic collapse. The result: an effortless history lesson filled with details about the intricate art of sewing 19th century women's clothing, as well as African-American life.