Reader reviews and comments on The Secrets of Mary Bowser, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

by Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    May 2012, 496 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book


Page 3 of 3
There are currently 24 reader reviews for The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Carmen S. (Elkins, Arkansas) (04/19/12)

Great read
This book is even more amazing because its based on a true story. Very informative about the difficult times and hardships of people during that period of time.
Margaret L. (Petoskey, MI) (04/15/12)

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 is a great history lesson for readers of all ages
Power Reviewer Peggy K. (Long Beach, CA) (04/11/12)

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.
Power Reviewer Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO) (04/11/12)

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.
Kay W. (West Hills, CA) (04/09/12)

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) (04/08/12)

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) (04/03/12)

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) (03/31/12)

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.
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.