May 25

TLC Book Tours: Mini Book Review of The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

 By: Lois Leveen
Publisher: William Morrow
Orig. Pub. Date: January 2012
Pub. Date: May 15, 2012
Formats: Paperback, Electronic and Audio
Pages: 496
Genre: Historical
Age Group: 18+
Source: Publisher

Learn more about Lois Leveen on: Twitter | Website | goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:Based on the remarkable true story of a freed African American slave who returned to Virginia at the onset of the Civil War to spy on the Confederates, The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a masterful debut by an exciting new novelist. Author Lois Leveen combines fascinating facts and ingenious speculation to craft a historical novel that will enthrall readers of women’s fiction, historical fiction, and acclaimed works like Cane River and Cold Mountain that offer intimate looks at the twin nightmares of slavery and Civil War. A powerful and unforgettable story of a woman who risked her own freedom to bring freedom to millions of others, The Secrets of Mary Bowser celebrates the courageous achievements of a little known but truly inspirational American heroine.

Review: I’d like to thank TLC Book Tours for having me be a part of the tour and William Morrow for sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

As you know, I love historical books — everything from stories surrounding true events to stories featuring real life characters. THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER by Lois Leveen is about a real woman during the Civil War. The book starts of with Mary, a slave who works as a housemaid for the wealthy Van Lew family in Richmond, Virginia. The family is kind to Mary and her mother who also works for them. Her father is a blacksmith in town. The Van Lews give Mary clothes, food, and a roof over their heads, but they are still under their rules. That is, until the head of the household, Mr. Van Lew dies. During this time, his wife and his daughter, Elizabeth, discover Mary has a photographic memory. They also decide to free their slaves.

Elizabeth desires that Mary use her talent and become educated in Philadelphia. Elizabeth is very connected in high society and enrolls Mary in a prestigious girls school. There she mets a variety of young women and discovers the world outside Richmond is very different, but in some ways the same.

Of course, we eventually get to the meat of the story — Mary becomes a spy and infiltrates the Confederate White House. With Elizabeth’s help, Mary begins a career in espinonage. The Secrets of Mary Bowser also contains a side story of romance, which gives the story more dimension. It’s a fascinating novel and one Leveen captures gracefully, including the life and voice of a slave. Her research shines through in every page.

THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER is adventurous and one I was extremely glad to read. It showcases the life of a true American heroine who was courageous, smart and valiant.

I’m giving THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER 5 “Mini Books” for being wonderfully realistic!

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2 Responses to “TLC Book Tours: Mini Book Review of The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen”

  1. A spy story? Nice 🙂 Great mini review.

  2. I LOVE historical books like this – can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.