Advance reader reviews of The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

By Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser
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  • Published in USA  May 2012,
    496 pages.

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There are currently 21 member reviews
for The Secrets of Mary Bowser
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  • Margaret L. (Petoskey, MI)


    A Wonderful History Lesson
    This is a story about the life of Mary Bowser, a remarkable women who found the courage to do unthinkable deeds to fight for her beliefs. The author's picturesque style of writing and use of antiquated dialogue takes the readers back to the sights and sounds of the 1800s. I will certainly recommend this book to others....it is a great history lesson for readers of all ages
  • Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)


    The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    The Civil War told from a different perspective, a black female spy. An intriguing story filled with interesting characters, the author keeps the reader entertained from beginning to end with a well told tale.
  • Peggy K. (Long Beach, CA)


    Contrary Mary
    This book opens new territory about slavery. Forget what you think you know about American slavery. Travel with Mary Bowser as she goes from slave to free negro. By itself it is a wonderful story but given the historical facts it is also a chance to have your mind challenged by what you think you know about slavery and about the Civil War. Great book for book clubs and young teens. There will be so many questions and so many answers that will generate more questions. I am so glad that I asked to have this book for review and I believe that anyone interested in this country's history will enjoy it as well.
  • Kay W. (West Hills, CA)


    The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen
    The author's description of historical events made me feel as if I had witnessed them. This story would appeal to Civil War and Slavery history buffs. It brought out historical events that I was not aware of and that made me think. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it. The main character, who was a house slave for a very wealthy family in Richmond, Virginia, was a determined person willing to put herself in extreme danger to change the lives of slaves and to change history.
  • Kathy H. (Richmond, VA)


    In a word...
    Boring. "Mary Bowser" just dragged for me. I didn't see or feel the characters come alive on the page. To be fair, I only made it to page 84, but I simply found myself slogging through.
  • Jane H. (Indianola, IA)


    The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    This outstanding book is based on the true story of Mary Van Lew Bowser, a Black slave of the Civil War period. Raised as a house slave by the Van Lew family, Mary is given her freedom and sent to Philadelphia to be educated. As a free Black, Mary encounters many of the same problems she had in the South - non-acceptance by most whites, hypocrisy, and black snobbery.

    Remembering her mother, who is also free, but chose to stay behind to be with Mary's father, Mary feels she must do something to help the Southern slaves.She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, but when the Civil War breaks out she returns to Virginia as a Northern Spy.

    This book is a 'Must Read'! Beautifully written, it is based on a real person who lived and witnessed a side of the Civil War not found in text books. The treatment of the Black slaves in the South is heartbreaking. A new American Classic!
  • Barbie R. (Jamestown, PA)


    Profound new author in historical fiction
    Great historical fiction makes you forget that you know the ending, so that you may learn it anew. Lois Leveen has a beautiful way with words, a call a friend and read aloud voice. The characters are deep and rich and the many definitions and struggles of freedom may change the way you think of the Civil War. A must read for anyone who wishes to step into historical Richmond.
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