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Tracy B. (New Castle, DE)
The Spy Lover
I felt as though I was right there in the U.S. Civil war it was very descriptive, terrifying, lonely, elating & compelling. This made it necessary to put the book down now and then. Kiana's development of the 3 main characters was to head each chapter with their name, time & place a vivid past or present view of their life. I have found myself reading other books about the U.S. Civil War in each one there is a new piece of information, here it was the poppy fields and addiction. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful author.
Linda B. (Sheridan, WY)
The Spy Lover
This story showed a different side of the Civil War. The characters are believable and interesting. I had no idea that some Chinese participated in the war. It is interesting to read how the spy, a woman, is able to pass on her information without getting caught. Since it is based on the author's family history, I feel it should be considered a historical novel. Those who enjoy historical novels will enjoy this novel as well.
Lisa B. (Denton, TX)
The nitty gritty of the Civil War
I liked many aspects of this book, such as the descriptions of the everyday lives of the soldiers and nurses during the Civil War. I think the title is a little misleading as it makes the book sound like a romance, which it really isn't. However, several historical inaccuracies took me out of the story, such as the use of gasoline described in an early scene and gasoline would have been a very unlikely commodity during the Civil War. However, the battle scenes and things like that seemed to be very well researched.
Mary O. (Boston, MA)
A true delight!
I LOVED this book! Set in the Civil War, it portrays three main characters - a Chinese immigrant Union soldier, his daughter who is an army nurse in search of her missing father, and a Confederate officer who falls in love with his nurse. Beautifully written, it describes all the horrific aspects of war as well as the complications of love and human emotion. I highly recommend this book to all. It is an absolute pleasure!
Judith W. (Brooklyn, NY)
Wish I could have read it in one sitting
I couldn't put this book down. Not only were the characters compelling and the plot engrossing, but I learned something new. I was not aware of the Chinese presence in the Union Army. My awareness of their history at that time was limited to the building of the railroads in the far west, so found this a good addition to my fund of knowledge. Will look for other books by this author as I love her writer's voice.
Lora O. (Antioch, CA)
Beautiful Story from a Unique Perspective, but with a silly title
On this sesquicentennial of the Civil War, I thought no author could come up with anything new, but Ms. Davenport did just that. I have never read about Chinese soldiers, but apparently there many who honorably fought for both sides. This story is heartbreaking, from the point of view of the Chinese father fighting for the north and his daughter, of Chinese and Native American working as a nurse for the south, sharing secrets with the Northerners in order to find her father and avenge her treatment by the confederates who killed her mother, raped her and burned their village. Neither Johnny Tom or Era had any reason for loyalty to any aspect of America, and the cruel treatment of Era, as a non-white continued from coast to coast long after the war ended. The author does not sugarcoat the war, the battles or the horrific conditions in the field hospitals and the book is painful and disturbing to read. The authors depiction of how the war and the act of killing changes a man is especially well wrought in the character of Warren, the confederate soldier that loves Era. The three characters are grievously damaged by their experiences yet the author makes clear that underneath there is still an inner core of honor, decency and even a faint hope of beauty and meaning in the world. There is a wonderful section about Era and other southern women working in poppy fields hidden in the fields to make opium to treat the sick and injured soldiers. I was deeply moved by this story about inhumanity, the purported fight to end slavery, the cost of loyalty, the love and solidarity of soldiers taking care of each other, honor and love.
M. ( MA)
The Spy Lover
I do think however that the title is unfortunate. If I hadn't heard of the author, I would never look
at a this book, assuming it would be a cheesy romance or Bond type thriller instead of the lovely, profound, moving story that it is.
I think this would be a wonderful book for a discussion.
I found the topic of this book very interesting. I had not known of how Chinese immigrants were involved in the Civil War. Unfortunately the use of three main alternating viewpoints (plus that of occasional brief views of more characters) made it hard for me to follow some of the more important pieces of the story.
Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)
Absolutely loved this book!! The author did a great job, her accuracy with the civil war history was tremendous. Her description of the battles that were fought during the civil war was interesting and explained how the soldiers felt and how they dealt with such a brutal war. I would recommend this book to anybody who is a civil war enthusiast - great details but told in a familiar way. At the end one will feel very much a part of Ms. Davenport's family.