Teresa K. (Ashburn, VA)
The Spy Lover
The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport is set in the Civil War during the period from 1862 to 1872. The main characters are Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant brought to America to work on the railroads. He is conscripted into the Confederate army but manages to escape and fights for the Union because he hates slavery having suffered a similar existence since his arrival in America and also because he has been promised citizenship in exchange for his military service. Era Tom is Johnny's lovely and exotic daughter who is a nurse for the Confederate army. She is also spying for the Union in hopes of finding her father and because the Confederates killed her mother, kidnapped her father and abused her. The third character is Warren Petticomb, a Confederate cavalry officer who loses his arm in battle and falls in love with the beautiful Era as she nurses him back to health.
The book is beautifully written in rich and lush language. The author describes the battles and horrific army camps full of grotesquely wounded and dying soldiers with unrelenting realism while portraying its characters' emotions with great sensitivity and compassion. The author has carefully researched the book which is particularly interesting because the events are presented from the perspective of minorities who participated in the Civil War, in this case Johnny and Era Tom. The overarching theme of the book is the juxtaposition of honesty and deceit especially as it relates to Era and Warren. Their love is intense; however, Warren's devotion to the Confederate cause and Era's role as a Union spy leads inevitably to a crisis that threatens their relationship as well as their ethics. How they deal with the situation provides the reader with an absorbing literary experience.
Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)
Oh, how I loved this book!
This book may not be everyone's cup of tea (a Civil War novel) but it, for me, was one where I didn't skip a word because Ms. Davenport's writing was so wonderful. I will be going back and reading her other book in the hopes that it was equally good. Because the books I am treated to by BookBrowse are in so many different genres, I haven't found a bad one - some are just better than others - this is at the top of the stack so far. Please read it.
Mary Lou C. (Shenandoah Junction, WV)
A personal side of war
I have read volumes on the Civil War and this novel is by far, one of the most graphic. If you tend to have a queazy stomach, you might want to skip this one. It paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of war and the personal tragedies and abuses suffered by three very interesting main characters. While the characters bring to life the abuses of women and non-whites during this period, the inhumanity of war is much broader. If you enjoy historical fiction, this is well worth reading. The author has based much of the story on her own family history.
Carol T. (Ankeny, Iowa)
Three alternating viewpoints makes this a difficult book to get into, but once I was, it was mesmerizing. And the research was impressive - I was right there with Johnny Tom, Era, and Warren.
Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
I Love " The Spy Lover"
This book is the greatest reason I love to read! It took me to the era of the Civil War and to the wet cold climate in which it took place - even though I was cozily snuggled up in my reading chair. I learned facts about American history that were never a part of school lessons. I met three characters who showed human strengths and frailties and struggled to overcome the emotional and physical adversities of their lives.
The book is a page turner that I will recommend to my friends - even the ones who love non-fiction best.
Catharine L. (Petoskey,
not for the faint-hearted
I learned a lot from this book, I didn't know that Chinese immigrant men were kidnapped to serve in the Confederate Army or southern women grew poppies for opium. I enjoyed the story told from the father's view, Johnny Tom, the daughter's, Era, and the Confederate soldier, Warren. The writing is beautiful. The graphic descriptions of war, abuse toward nonwhites, and women might bother some readers. The only reason I didn't rate the book a 5, I thought the ending dragged on. It is a book I will reread.
Catharine L. (Petoskey,
not for the faint-hearted
I learned alot from this book. Didn't know that Chinese immigrant men were kidnapped to serve in the Confederate army or southern women grew poppies for opium. I enjoyed the story line told from the father's view, Johnny Tom, the daughter's, Era, and the Confederate soldier, Warren. The writing is beautiful. The graphic descriptions of war, abuse toward nonwhites and women might bother some readers. The only reason I didn't rate the book a 5, I thought the ending dragged on. It is a book I will reread.