- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Dutton (Oct. 1 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525953620
- ISBN-13: 978-0525953623
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #568,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Spymistress Hardcover – Oct 1 2013
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Praise for THE SPYMISTRESS
“Readers of historical and inspirational fiction will admire Van Lew’s courage and commitment to her principles and the bravery of her ring of spies.” - Booklist
"'The Spymistress' also does what good historical fiction does - it places you there in history, but also makes you want to find out more about the real person and continue your education." - Durham Herald-Sun
Praise for Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker:
“History—and its colorful characters—come alive.” – USA Today on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“Required Reading . . . The story of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and Lizzie Keckley, a former slave who became Mrs. Lincoln’s seamstress and confidante. After the president’s assassination, Keckley created the Mary Todd Lincoln quilt and also a scandalous memoir. A new spin on the story.” – New York Post on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“Jennifer Chiaverini imagines the first lady’s most private affairs through the eyes of an unlikely confidante.” – Harper’s Bazaar on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“Chiaverini has drawn a loving portrait of a complex and gifted woman . . . Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker helps to illuminate the path on which her long and remarkable life led her.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“An example of what Jennifer Chiaverini does so well in her enlightening new historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, occurs late in the book, when a newly widowed Mary Todd Lincoln shares a letter of condolence from Queen Victoria with her dressmaker, a former slave named Elizabeth Keckley. . . . Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker vividly imagines how the Civil War touched daily life in Washington.” – Washingtonian on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker is a wonderful novel that covers many topics surrounding the events of the 1860s in Washington and the following decades… Any reader interested in President Lincoln, Civil War history, or historical fiction should love this book.” –Bookreporter.com on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“All the characters are brilliantly written, and readers will enjoy getting to know them. [Chiaverini] brings to life long-forgotten snapshots of America’s past with style, grace and respect.” – RT Book Reviews on Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
“Taking readers through times of war and peace as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary woman, the author brings Civil War Washington to vivid life through her meticulously researched authentic detail. Chiaverini's characters are compelling and accurate; the reader truly feels drawn into the intimate scenes at the White House.” – Library Journal on Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
“Her thorough research into the time period is reflected abundantly throughout the novel.” – Jackie’s Art Quilts on Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
“Chiaverini's characters are compelling and accurate.” – Library Journal on Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
Praise for Jennifer Chiaverini and the Elm Creek Quilts series: “Chiaverini’s themes of love, loss, and healing will resonate with many, and her characters’ stories are inspiring.” —Publishers Weekly
“Chiaverini has an impressive ability to bring a time and place alive.” —Romantic Times Book Reviews
“Emotionally compelling.” —Chicago Tribune on Sonoma Rose
“Jennifer Chiaverini has made quite a name for herself with her bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series. From the Civil War to the Roaring Twenties to contemporary settings, these novels have offered suspense, romance, and, at times, in-depth looks into the social, political, and cultural differences that helped shape a nation.” —BookPage
“Chiaverini excels at weaving stories and at character development. We can relate to the residents of Elm Creek Valley because they remind us of folks we know—a cousin, an aunt, or a grandmother.” —Standard-Examiner (Utah)
About the Author
JENNIFER CHIAVERINI is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. A graduate of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and two sons.
Top customer reviews
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Jennifer Chiaverini creates characters whose personalities are colourful, multifaceted, and emotionally gripping. Each one comes alive in the pages of her novel . Lizzie Van Lew the extraordinary forty-three year old spinster is stubborn and rash at times. But she's also brave, smart, witty, and self-sacrificing, especially when the cost of her espionage is death. Mary Jane Bowser 's an admirable coloured woman who unselfishly sacrifices her freedom to fight for the rights of her people. She's clever, determined and fearless in her role as a spy in the household of Confederate President Davis. Other notable women in the story include Eliza Van Lew, Lizzie's mother , a shrewd and compassionate Christian soul, as well as Eliza Carrington, a loyal, trustworthy and intrepid friend who will save Lizzie and her mother from the clutches of the Confederate detective investigating them.
Among the heroic and daring men of the story are John Van Lew, Erastus Ross, William Rowley, Samuel Ruth, and Wilson Bowser; each one putting his life on the line to help the North win a horrific, bloody war. And of course for every hero and resistance group there are antagonists like the White Caps, Richmond vigilantes and individuals like John Van Lew's estranged wife Mary Carter West whose hatred and betrayal overrules her common sense, and General Winder who allows access to the Union prisoners then rescinds his order, radically changing, growing angry and inflexible as the Confederate war effort declines. In a novel filled with unforgettable characters, courageous and determined men and women, it's hard to list only a few.
The plot is riveting as the characters and events draw the reader into the upheaval and violence of a war long-forgotten , but one which truly forged its mark on American history. I found this novel fascinating and highly recommend it and Jennifer Chiaverini's other Civil War novel "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker."
So if you have read my reviews before, you will know I am a bit of history lover. I am fascinated by the Civil War between the North and the South of America and this book just so happens to be the focal point of a non fictional character that braved the odds, fought for what she believed in and put her life on the line to make whatever difference she could in this war.
The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini is a page turning, compelling historical fiction based on the efforts of real life Elizabeth Van Lew. I enjoyed this read so much, that I actually researched more about this incredible woman. I was pleasantly surprised to find Jennifer write this piece of fiction around facts and true life historical events and kept Elizabeth as precise as she could. I have much respect for an author who can make a piece of real history come to life and make it completely believable! WELL DONE JENNIFER CHIAVERINI!
Ok, let's get on with the review!
This book opens just as Richmond, Virginia has voted on seceding with the South in 1861. Elizabeth's family is aristocratic and slave owners but her mother and her have come to believe that is no longer the future. Legally blocked by her father's will, the Van Lew family are not allowed to free their slaves, but they sure make life bearable by granting them papers to live as free as they can (the slaves have to check in for legal purposes). Absolutely disgusted with the state of Virginia and the people who have flipped in agreement with secession (they realize that nothing but bloodshed and angst will come if war is declared ... and they were right), they decide to do what little they can to fight against their own confederate army.
Throughout this novel, Elizabeth (Lizzie) and her band of ladies (my personal nickname for them ..lol) Mary Jane Bowser (her coloured friend who gives up her freedom to serve as a servant and spy in Confederate leader Davis's home), Eliza Van Lew (Lizzie's beautiful hearted mother) and Eliza Carrington (a family friend who is as brave as Lizzie) work together as Union sympathizer's. Realizing they are being watched and potentially cast as traitor's, these woman take it upon themselves to outwardly show support for the Confederacy while internally they are spying for and supporting the union. They visit underground and aid Northerner's in escaping, visit prisons and use the guise of being humanitarian to receive and pass on messages that aid the Northerner's to success and go as far as hiding people in their own home. All of this is done right under the nose of the confederate army and at any time they can be caught and killed for espionage and treason.
Of course there are many other supporting characters and major events on both sides, men and women, North and South, that contribute to all the emotions you will experience while reading this book. So many in fact that I could easily write a four page review. LOL! I will not spoil anything, especially if you are not familiar with this part of history. Know however, that Jennifer Chiaverini writes all her characters with so many complex layers that they become clearly believable. Not many characters are written black and white, but very much shades of grey. You read many internal struggles and I can only imagine how hard it had to be to pick a side you believe in when outside influence greatly affects your way quality of life or even if you will live that life.
An absolutely fantastic book by a wonderful author. I am anticipating reading more of her books that follow this genre. If you are a history buff and/or this era is interesting to you, please have a read of The Spymistress. It most certainly has it all, from mystery, suspense, page turning anticipation, heart, and character.
HAPPY READING! :)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Those people had no TV or radar, cell phones or the technology we posess, but they used their brains and were able to accomplish great things. Though her hard work and loyalty earned her some years of plenty in her town, she unfortunately did not fare so well with subsequent administrations. It is good to give credit where credit is due to this most interesting and forceful woman of her day.
My interest in Van Lew is with her “underlings.” I was thrilled when the book began with the wedding of Mary Jane Richards who was the one I am researching and who showed up throughout the book.
I appreciated the details of Van Lew’s life and activities that were new to me. They could only have sprung from the author’s meticulous research. Her extensive bibliography will be of great help in my continuing investigation of Mary Jane Richards who appears to be Mary Elizabeth Bowser.
_Hope Irvin Marston, author of EYE ON THE IDITAROD: AISLING’S QUEST
. One sees through Lizzie a Quaker and an educated women the values which drove her to risk her life, liberty and welfare for the Union and for the abolition of slavery. Her heroism is unusual both in her time and now,
It is a must because we have too long overlooked her contribution to the our countries history..