Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini - 355 pages

The Spymistress is the fictionalized account of a real Union spy during the Civil War.  Elizabeth "Lizzie" Van Lew and her family are staunch Unionists in Confederate Richmond during the War Between the States.  Every adult member of the family does what they can to help the Union cause, but none so more than Lizzie.  Initially, she begins her assistance with tending to the sick and wounded Union prisoners held within Richmond under the ruse of Christian charity.  Soon she begins to learn information from these men and passes it along.  Soon thereafter, Lizzie steps up her efforts by placing slaves/servants loyal to her in important positions, such as becoming Jefferson Davis' maid, and assisting escaping prisoners.  All the information gathered is sent northward.

This was a great book.  Besides the fictionalized parts of the story, the historical elements were worked in well.  We learn about Lizzie's real life and there are mentions of the various battles and civilian struggles (including rationing) and their effects on the populace of Richmond are fitted in where appropriate. 

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