Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini. New Hardcover First Edition, 419 pages. Dutton; 1st edition (2014). Autographed by Jennifer Chiaverini.
In her New York Times bestselling novel Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Jennifer Chiaverini illuminated one of the First Lady’s most private relationships. In Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, she tells of 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, appointed Secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet while aspiring to even greater heights.
Thrice widowed, Chase found himself at a disadvantage without a wife to host social gatherings crucial to influence-building. Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into this role, establishing a salon at the Chase home that launched a father-daughter partnership bent on achieving the Presidency. For her efforts, 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.
The intertwining public lives of these two women never failed to inspire headlines, but the true and lasting influence each wrought in private makes, in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini’s skilled telling, for an even more fascinating story. Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival is an astute and lively novel of the politics of state—whether enacted in houses of government or the family homes of its leaders—set against the vibrant backdrop of Civil War era Washington.