Saturday, October 19, 2013
The Spymistress by Jennifier Chiaverini
Book: The Spymistress
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Recommended to: Civil War Fans, CIA Agents, Mistresses
The Spymistress is the account of Elizabeth Van Lew, a southern lady who spied for the North during the Civil War. This book is historical fiction and excellent. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I haven't read a Civil War book in a long time, probably since The Last Silk Dress which I read when I was about 10 and then read over the over again because it was so good. Speaking of, I really should find it at my parent's house and read it a 50th time at the ripe old age of 28. I digress.
Elizabeth Van Lew first defies the Confederacy by taking meals and gifts to the Union prisoners of war in Richmond. She befriends several of them and then smuggles out information and notes to send North. She then creates a vast spy network of Union loyalists and uses the network to smuggle out escaped prisoners, information about the Confederacy and her own advice on where the Union should strike first.
Initially, I thought this book was about a fictional character in a historical setting. Much like some historical fiction novels that create a character and then place that character in a historical setting. That is not the case with The Spymistress. About half way through the book, I read the epilogue and discovered the Elizabeth Van Lew was a real person! She lived in Richmond during the Civil War and Jennifer Chaiverini painstakingly went through her letters, journals and notes to discover her actions as a spy for the Union during the Civil War. It was a magnificent find and it made me respect the author and Elizabeth Van Lew much more.
I also really enjoyed this book because it gave a lot of detail about how poorly the Union prisoners were treated during their imprisonment. I haven't read a book about Civil War prisoners before and I liked learning about it.
I absolutely recommend this book as an excellent mostly historical account of the lives of Miss. Van Lew and her family and friends.