Advance reader reviews of The Secrets of Mary Bowser

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

by Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser
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  • Published in USA  May 2012
    496 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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There are currently 21 member reviews
for The Secrets of Mary Bowser
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  • Karla M. (Sicklerville, NJ)


    Glad I Kept Reading
    I found the first portion of the book a little slow but I'm glad I stuck it out because this was a great book. The story is wonderfully told and all the characters are so full of life you can't help but feel like you are right there with them. I love that Mary Bowser is such a strong woman character; especially for the time period. I could see this book becoming a movie because the plot is so fascinating.
  • Kimberli M. (Jessup, MD)


    It pulls you in
    I would highly recommend The Secrets of Mary Browser. It is written with incredible detail that not only tells you a story, but teaches you about a period of history in the United States that still influences our lives today. Mary was an incredibly courageous woman who risked everything to try to bring freedom to slaves. Great read!
  • Jan M. (Jenks, OK)


    History made easy
    I'm not a good history student, so this book was a delightful experience for me. A history lesson made easy! Mary Bowser's "secrets" gave this reader a look at slavery and the civil war from an entirely different perspective. I was appalled by the fact that slaves were forbidden to learn to read. I was aware that many were illiterate, but it just really had not sunk in that they were kept that way intentionally.

    The courage and determination of Mary Bowser was no less than heroic. Then to have risked everything to return to servitude was beyond brave. This writer was able to give her readers a look at the horrific events of the civil war from the perspective of one who was living through the difficulties. I realize the actions and conversations were fiction, based on facts, but the writer presented them in such a way that this reader almost felt a part of the story.

    A beautifully written book that I will most certainly recommend to my book club.
  • Sylvia J. (Los Angeles, CA)


    This is why I love historical fiction!
    This book is a classic example of why I love historical fiction. Ms. Leveen was able to fill every page with such rich detail bringing each character to life in such a fully dimensional way and at the same time she was able to show the struggles, suffering and mixed bag that slavery represented. I truly enjoyed being able to see Mary go from young slave girl to the free woman of color who was brilliantly educated and a shrewd spy during the Civil War. I highly recommend this book to everyone but in particular I recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction.
  • Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)


    The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    This is one of the best books I've read in recent years.

    While it is fiction, based on a small bit of probable history, it reads like a true story, told by a participant in an amazing part of American History. You have to admire Mary Bowser, who follows her heart to do the right thing, despite life-threatening danger.

    I enjoyed learning about the different layers of society among African-Americans in those years around and including the Civil War. It is revelatory.

    I would recommend this book whole-heartedly to Book Clubs and individuals who want an absorbing, thought-provoking read.
  • Rachel B. (Waynetown, IN)


    Very touching and informative
    I have a special place in my heart for historical fiction, and this was a really amazing book. What makes it more inspiring and interesting is the real life and events it was based on. Sometimes I hear people lamenting about the state of things, and I read a book like this and think how nice the world could be if we were all so brave and willing to make the kind of sacrifices and chances Mary did. The events and characters were believable, and I agree with the other readers who have said that they enjoyed the perspective of a city slave. I am also very used to the story of the slaves on the plantations and such, but it was nice to read of the experiences in Richmond, away from the fields. Pacing was a little slow in the middle, but not enough to stop my reading, or be too distracting. Definitely would recommend.
  • Lisa F. (Newton, MA)


    Well Written Story
    Mary Bowser was a real person and this book combined fact with fiction to fill in the gaps. I enjoyed this book very much and learned about the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and how blacks were treated in the Union North, that they really were not allowed to live totally free. Reading about Mary's life was interesting, intriguing and I learned many new things about this time period. A wonderful read! I'm going to choose it for my book club when it's my turn.
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