Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts | Book Review

Last summer one of my biggest reading accomplishments was reading Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts. As much as I love history and women’s history in particular - Capital Dames was a little bit out of my wheelhouse. After all, I do not prioritize reading non-fiction as much as I would like to. Don’t get me wrong, I love non-fiction about history. However, I am much more apt to pick up a YA fiction book or a romance novel, they’re just my preference to wind down with. I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and picked up this book.

Capital Dames opens up on a summer day where Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s widow is giving a speech trying to fundraise for a monument for President Washington. The book then transitions to discussing society women in DC prior to the Civil War. Then we see the impact of the war on the relationships with each other — as DC was a city divided. Some of the women left to go south as that is where their sympathies were and some stayed in DC. We learned about women whose husbands had political ambitions. The most interesting to me was Jessie Benton Fremont. She’s pregnant a few times in the book and traveling while trying to get her husband more political influence. At one point she was super powerful in the DC circles and things looked great for her husband. Then things change.

In contrast to Fremont, is Mary Todd Lincoln. She was the wife of Abraham Lincoln and never was popular at all. Instead, she was criticized for spending a ton of money. She didn’t really have great social graces. Oh, and she was kind of a jerk to her dressmaker, a Free Black woman. I never knew that Mary Todd Lincoln sucked. However, I could have some sympathy as both her young sons died as well as you know, the whole her husband being assassinated thing.

I ended up liking Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts overall. It was a long read, one that did give me a little trepidation — especially because I was reading it while also having a severe case of morning sickness and exhaustion. What helped me get through this book was reading just one chapter a day. I ended up absorbing a bit more and not feeling a ton of pressure to rush through it. And now I’m willing and feeling up to checking out more non-fiction history books by Cokie Roberts.


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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