J W. (Davis, CA)
This book turned out to be a wonderful surprise for me. I abhor romance novels of any kind and was afraid, as I began reading, that this was what the story would be. It was so much more. It is a history of this country during the most horrific time of our existence as a nation. I think all the wars the United States has been involved in since the Civil War, including Viet Nam, pale in comparison. Ms. Davenport writes with such authenticity that the horrors are brought to life and placed at our feet, unable to be ignored.
Her story presents her characters honestly. That her own family history contributed to this novel makes it even more interesting. I knew nothing of the 'foreign' element of the fighting forces and found this eye-opening. Then the aftermath of the war, the anger and hopelessness, brought about such awful atrocities toward anyone who could be used as a scapegoat.
The story is sometimes a challenge due to its honesty. But the author's depiction of the strength of the human soul to survive and thrive is well worth the read. First, this is a war story. And this is a Love story - love in its many forms - and the absolution love can provide.
This is a book I will not soon forget and one I will read again.
Lucy B. (Urbana, Ohio)
The Spy Lover
No story that deals with the civil war (especially in light of the number of casualties on both sides, the maimed soldiers who go on living with their injuries, brothers fighting brothers) could be considered a "happy story." But reading on different levels gives us opportunities to think about all sides of situations. This novel by Kiana Davenport that also deals with the life in a war camp, immigrant soldiers, and nurses tending the wounded. Congratulations to the author for this deeply moving story. She has covered a lot of situations and also included some of her family history. I will be recommending this book to my friends.
Mary S. (Bow, NH)
US Civil War's unknown heroes
This book is a must read for all, no matter your interest level in the Civil War. Told from the viewpoint of a Chinese immigrant, his daughter and her lover, it a poignant tale of how war effects everyone. I am a bedtime reader and this book kept me up late many nights because I would completely lose track of time. I highly recommend it to all - plenty of issues for book groups to discuss, not too mature for teens,
Elizabeth L. (Salem, Oregon)
Horrifying and Beautiful
This is one of those books that is both hard to pick up and hard to put down. Nearly every page contained a tragedy or degradation but it was all so wonderfully written that I was enthralled. The three main characters are well drawn and their actions and feelings are believable. I highly recommend it.
Toby S. (Seattle, WA)
VERY moving and beautifully written book
"The Spy Lover" by Kiana Davenport will remain long in my memory. (Only a small percentage of the many books I read do.) This tragic story, while graphic in it's description of battles in the Civil War, delves deeply into the nature of the love, loyalty and racism. The characters of the novel were made real to me and I was deeply moved by this book and I highly recommend it not only for its historical content but for it's literary merit.
Pam L. (Melbourne Beach, FL)
A 3-D look at the Civil war
"The Spy Lover" is a fascinating account of the Civil War from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant, a nurse/spy and a one armed cavalry man. Kianan Davenport writes such a vivid almost life like account of the Civil War that it made me feel I was on some of the battle fields and among the soldiers. Much of the telling is not for the weak stomached, but certainly an accurate account of the detritus of war. A novel with many details that I do not believe have been brought to life before. I particularly loved Johnny Tom's Eastern philosophy on the horrors of war and how the women responded to the changes that the Civil War created for them.
Jan Z-R (Jefferson, SD)
Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport mostly takes place during the civil war and the brutality and horror of that war almost edges out the other characters of the story: Johnny Tom who fights for the North, his daughter Era who is a spy for the North, and Era's lover, the Confederate soldier Warren. Johnny Tom's character is enlarged by his being a Chinese immigrant and this fact adds more layers of intensity to this already intense story.
Era's cover as a spy is a nurse in the war, the story begins with Era and Warren meeting each other as Era helps nurse Warren back to health from a wound. Their love affair deepens, as does the Era's guilt at the secret she is hiding from Warren. Era's being a spy is a result of her trying to find her father whose affiliation to the North is another secret Era is keeping from Warren.
Nobody comes out clean in this book, especially the North or South "militaries", but the love and presence of the three main characters is amazingly told. I came away feeling like my life was enriched by reading about these three people, and they will stay with me for a long time.