Richmond, Virginia, 1861: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Van Lew was born to a slave holding family, but was educated in the North and she is horrified when Virginia succeeds from the Union. Living in the Confederate Capital she is determined to do everything she can to help the Union, from caring for Union prisoners to smuggling vital information North. As the war goes on she establishes a vast underground network of spies in vital places including the Confederate White House, and inventive ways to smuggle information.
While she is able to keep her activities hidden for the most part from prying eyes, she cannot keep her beliefs completely secret. Will she be able to continue her work until Richmond is liberated? Find out in The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini.
I really enjoyed this book! I am a big history buff especially about the American Civil War, but I had never heard of Elizabeth Van Lew. She truly was an amazing woman who worked hard to save the country she loved.
Chiaverini does an excellent job of telling Lizzie’s story especially since the book spans the entire war. It might have been easy to try to cram in too many details and/or rush through an event to get to the next one, but I did not feel that way at all. There are quite a few storylines that continued throughout the story which kept it moving, and those were the more important ones. I did have a bit of trouble keeping some of the minor characters straight because there were so many.
Using the gifts God has given you and having been placed in a circumstance for a specific reason by God are major themes in the book. God definitely placed Lizzie where she was for a reason and gave her the talents to do what was needed for his purposes and she used them as much as, and as best she could.
On the whole, this is an interesting fictionalized biography of an amazing woman. I particularly enjoyed the inside perspective on the Civil War from Unionist in the heart of enemy territory. I give it four and a half out of five stars.
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Soli Deo Gloria!