The Spymistress (2020)

The Spymistress Born to slave holding aristocracy in Richmond Virginia and educated by Northern Quakers Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time When her native state seceded in April Van Lew s conviction
  • Title: The Spymistress
  • Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
  • ISBN: 9780525953623
  • Page: 375
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Born to slave holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia, and educated by Northern Quakers, Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time When her native state seceded in April 1861, Van Lew s convictions compelled her to defy the new Confederate regime Pledging her loyalty to the Lincoln White House, her courage would never waver, even as her wartime actions threatened notBorn to slave holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia, and educated by Northern Quakers, Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time When her native state seceded in April 1861, Van Lew s convictions compelled her to defy the new Confederate regime Pledging her loyalty to the Lincoln White House, her courage would never waver, even as her wartime actions threatened not only her reputation, but also her life Van Lew s skills in gathering military intelligence were unparalleled She helped to construct the Richmond Underground and orchestrated escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison under the guise of humanitarian aid Her spy ring s reach was vast, from clerks in the Confederate War and Navy Departments to the very home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis Although Van Lew was inducted posthumously into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, the astonishing scope of her achievements has never been widely known In Chiaverini s riveting tale of high stakes espionage, a great heroine of the Civil War finally gets her due.
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    One Reply to “The Spymistress”

    1. Despite the fact that the book s subject and main protagonist, Elizabeth Van Lew, grated on my nerves from time to time, this was by far my favorite Civil war era book by Jennifer Chiaverini Elizabeth, her brother, John, and her mother are loyal to their government in Washington and find their core values shaken when Virginia votes to leave the union Now they find themselves among neighbors who support the cause of the South So in secret Elizabeth decides to get involved in an elaborate spy netw [...]

    2. 2.5 out of 5 stars.At times The Spymistress can be a very enjoyable book It depicts the story of Miss Elizabeth Van Lew, who collected information to aid the Union during the Civil War As a woman living in Confederate Virginia, Elizabeth s loyalties to the Union and abolitionist ideals put her within grave danger, yet she never backs down from what she considers to be her duty She provided comforts to Union prisoners of war and sometimes helped them escape she depleted her fortune to put towards [...]

    3. You know those books you can t put down and hurry through them because they re so wonderful This isn t one of them.

    4. Find this and other reviews at flashlightcommentary.Civil War era lit is not easy for me to read I think it a wonderful period with a wealth of compelling material, but I find a lot of writers get caught up in the morality of the conflict and end up releasing very simplistic and one sided accounts that glorify the virtuous north against the villainous, bigoted and degenerate south I get the appeal of the good vs evil allegory, but it s been done a million times and at the end of the day, I find [...]

    5. Setting Confederate VirginiaDespite her fervent loyalty to the Union cause wealthy spinster Elizabeth Van Lew cannot bring herself to abandon her beloved Virginia even after it secedes from the United States During her missions of mercy to the Union soldiers imprisoned in the Confederate capital of Richmond,she realizes she is perfectly situated to glean information that could hasten a Union victory Risking her reputation, her fortune and her life, she gradually constructs an intricate patchwork [...]

    6. There are a lot of books out there about the American Civil War, both Historical Fiction novels and Non fiction histories Unlike many of the civil war books out there, which tell grand, sweeping stories of famous battles, The Spymistress, established author Jennifer Chiaverini s new Historical Fiction novel focuses on a much smaller, but just as important, story The book tells the story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a staunch Unionist, who just happens to live behind the Confederate lines in Virginia Sh [...]

    7. Consistent In one word I wrapped up The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini The characters, time period, the story and details were very consistent Pushing on through the book, I kept thinking I d reach the heightened climax or a chapter that was so intriguing, pushing me to turn the page and continue on to the next part The last page arrived before either desired point The novel was well written, however the story could have been half its size and still accomplish the same outcome It read like [...]

    8. A riveting piece of history written in some what fiction and non fiction style Elizabeth Van Lew Lizzie a Unionist spy for her country created a vast spy ring at civil war time starting in 1861 A memorable heroine of her time committed and determined Lizzie also demonstrates warmth and love and a spice of witticism I whole heartedly enjoyed this novel anyone who enjoys reading about strong women in history should give it a try.

    9. I really tried to finish this book, but I just couldn t do it The main character, Lizzy, was a spinster in her late 40s who seemed superficial and whiney I had absolutely nothing in common with her, which never bodes well when you re trying to immerse yourself in a story I may try some of Jennifer Chiaverini s other books, but I just couldn t stand to listen to any of Lizzy s complaints.

    10. I really enjoyed this The writing was much better than Mrs Lincoln s Rival It didn t seem to be as much of a historical text, as it was the story happening around the historical events It was much faster paced, and I enjoyed knowing how Lizzie got her information and how she was able to get the info into the hands of the Union without getting caught Being Canadian, I just know the bare facts of American history, and it s nice to see these books telling the stories, not of the well known people, [...]

    11. There is a power behind the throne mightier than the throne, and that power is the people.Standing upon that narrow isthmus of time which connects the two segments of the calendar, the Old and the New Year it is natural that we should pause to reflect should cast a keen retrospective glance upon the troubled tide over which we have passed, and peer intently into the Cimmerians darkness which envelops our future path.What does the impenetrable face of 1864 conceal of good or of evil for us Not mi [...]

    12. Originally published at Reading RealityThis is a quiet kind of story While the U.S Civil War that is the reason for the book contains myriad stories of blood, gore, guts and warfare, the story of Elizabeth Van Lew is about a much quieter kind of courage, and makes for a quiet book.What do I mean by that Elizabeth Van Lew was a real person, a woman who was born and raised in Richmond Virginia, and continued to live there throughout the Civil War, in spite of being a strong Union sympathizer caugh [...]

    13. I was pleasantly surprised with this, my first venture into historical fiction I have read some reviews that complained that Lizzy was whiney I did not find her to be so I felt that Ms Chiaverini captured her Southern gentility fairly well It did seem incredible to me that she was able to carry on her mission for so long without detection, but she seemed quite clever and convincing Others have commented that the book was given a definite Union slant, with the Confederate sympathizers being portr [...]

    14. 3.5 to 4Fascinating topic and an intelligent treatment Rather than sensationalize her subject, Chiaverini devotes the first third to setting a solid foundation for the eventual spying by Elizabeth van Lew and how she avoided detection while penetrating even the household of Jefferson Davis in Richmond.This is the kind of intelligent historical fiction that is not afraid to deftly include paragraphs of information Details of daily life and increasing wartime privations are woven deftly as well, p [...]

    15. This is just too boring for me 20% into the story, I sat there and said, Well, I ve read this far and I know nothing about the heroine except she lives in Virginia, she lost her beau and is a spinster, she doesn t get along with her sister in law, and she supports the Union That s all.The book reads like an accounting of what happened in Virginia when it seceded Perhaps it becomes excitingI couldn t help but catch her maid s name in the beginning Mary Bowser Pretty sure she was a spy as well a [...]

    16. Grabbed this at the library on a whim based on the title and a quick peek at the jacket Thought the book was well researched, but it wasn t what I expected With a title like The Spymistress, I expected thought there d be some action and suspense In my opinion, Chiaverini got bogged down by trying to include too many details The pacing dragged as a result and the climax, if there really is one, appears to be the capture of Richmond which doesn t occur until the end of the book Van Lew s story is [...]

    17. Set in Richmond Virginia during the civil war Elizabeth Lizzie Van Lew and her family believe all people are created equal and support the Union cause Able to use their wealth and influence, Lizzie is able to care for the Union soldiers in the confederate prisons Along with fellow Unionist, valuable information is relayed to General Grant and other important men aiding them in battle Despite danger to her and her family Lizzie puts her life at risk time and again A good historical novel of a her [...]

    18. I think others will really enjoy this BUT Besides one of the funniest.quotes I ve read in ages this was just a bit too historical for me I got this as an ARC, it wasn t my cuppa tea so to speak The characters were a bit 2 dimensional, with very little depth, and just when they could have been interesting there seemed to be no motive for their odd behavior.I guess the Civil War isn t my thing

    19. Excellent Based on a true story, describes in detail the life of a progressive white activist in the south during the civil war.

    20. For a work of fiction, this is pretty dry, but I still liked it I appreciated the wealth of detail Chiaverini provided about the war and the conditions in Richmond This works well as a snapshot in time book It doesn t create the sense of tension or suspense you would expect from a novel about a spy though, and Chiaverini writes in a very distant way The reader feels separated from the characters, whose thoughts and feelings are not really discussed We know our protagonist through her words and d [...]

    21. This is really a 3.5 for me The Spymistress, a historical fiction look about Civil War Richmond, Virginia, afforded me an unusual picture of one particular city during this horrific time period While the story is really about Lizzie Van Lew, a true heroine of Unionist sentiments, I think Richmond is almost a character in herself Richmond was a torn city of obviously predominantly rebel causes, but Lizzie Van Lew was not a torn womene knew she was vehemently against slavery and pro Union, and she [...]

    22. I was excited about this book because the topic is one that I have read quite a lot about, unfortunately it was hard to finish because of the writing style While the characters were interesting and the topic was eventful I felt that I was viewing them from a distance There was a lack of depth in the characters that made them relatable and the story while relating the fact well, lacked an expected level of suspense of the topic Some of the side characters had enough personality to be remembered B [...]

    23. It was neat to read about a relatively unknown heroine of the Civil War I also found it interesting to get a little glimpse of what life was like in the Confederate Capital during this era of history I wish there had been a bit about Miss Van Lew s work as a spy The title seems to promise a lot of excitement during a dangerous period of time, but the spy work of Miss Van Lew sounds relatively tame Granted, it wouldn t surprise me if spy work is like this rather than like what we see in the mov [...]

    24. THE SPYMISTRESS by JENNIFER CHIAVERINI is an interesting American Historical Romance set in 1865 Richmond,Virginia A complex tale of the beginning of the Civil War where tension is high, loyalty question and brother against sister, wife against husband,friend against neighbor Elizabeth Van Lew, born to Confederate slave holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia but educated by Northern Quakers, she was before her time Her skill as a Union spy is unprecedented,her loyalty never wavered, with her [...]

    25. Lizzie Van Lew and her family find themselves in an interesting position in Richmond, VA as the Civil War breaks out they are Unionists who do not believe in either slavery or secession In fact, they work behind the scenes to help Union prisoners of war, escaped slaves, Confederate deserters, and other Unionists who have been found out by the Confederate government Lizzie finds herself running a mini spy network, and the family is in almost constant fear of being discovered and sent to prison or [...]

    26. My actual rating of this book is 3 1 2 stars but there s no way to indicate that in the star chart I became fascinated with Elizabeth Van Lew when I read another book for my book club, The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen, so I was intrigued to find this book on the shelf at my local library Lizzie or Bet Van Lew is a middle aged woman in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War She is wealthy, opinionated and a Union sympathizer, and she uses those characteristics to form a spy network for [...]

    27. I like historical fiction and since I had never heard of Elizabeth Van Lew, I was very interested in reading even a fictionalized account of her life and her efforts during the Civil War I see reviews complaining about the book s lack of build up and suspense, but the whole endeavor of maintaining Union loyalties in the Capitol of the Confederacy, while trying to appear to appear to be a loyal Virginian in order to avoid harm, would naturally be a life full of suspense and intrigue The book isn [...]

    28. I found this book fascinating We are led through the conflicts that developed when the Van Lew family of Virginia who were for the union, must carry on when Virginia secedes and joins the confederacy This poses numerous problems for the family and essentially family members are pitted against each other due to their beliefs We always tend to think of the women of this time as meek and mild, but many of them were strong fighters for their causes Elizabeth Van Lew was able to function just this si [...]

    29. What a thoroughly interesting, inspiring story Elizabeth Van Lew was certainly not made of ordinarily stuff The strain of living during war, and being involved in espionage, is hard to imagine As many heroic, visionaries, she died poor and alone Her remarkable work received posthumously, the recognition it reserved I must say however, whether this was true or just the author s imagination, the use of the Biblical admonition to care for the stranger, as a cover for espionage within the confederat [...]

    30. Perhaps I expected too much of this book, but it seemed flat very little action, the characters were distant My problem Or the story Possibly the story not enough known about the actual work done by Elizabeth Van Lew She wrote letters, had friends who helped carry the letters to the Union generals, spent time and money in doing good for the Union soldiers who were imprisoned in Richmond.

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