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Mary S. (Bow, NH)
US Civil War's unknown heroes
This book is a must read for all, no matter your interest level in the Civil War. Told from the viewpoint of a Chinese immigrant, his daughter and her lover, it a poignant tale of how war effects everyone. I am a bedtime reader and this book kept me up late many nights because I would completely lose track of time. I highly recommend it to all - plenty of issues for book groups to discuss, not too mature for teens,
Toby S. (Seattle, WA)
VERY moving and beautifully written book
"The Spy Lover" by Kiana Davenport will remain long in my memory. (Only a small percentage of the many books I read do.) This tragic story, while graphic in it's description of battles in the Civil War, delves deeply into the nature of the love, loyalty and racism. The characters of the novel were made real to me and I was deeply moved by this book and I highly recommend it not only for its historical content but for it's literary merit.
Elizabeth L. (Salem, Oregon)
Horrifying and Beautiful
This is one of those books that is both hard to pick up and hard to put down. Nearly every page contained a tragedy or degradation but it was all so wonderfully written that I was enthralled. The three main characters are well drawn and their actions and feelings are believable. I highly recommend it.
Pam L. (Melbourne Beach, FL)
A 3-D look at the Civil war
"The Spy Lover" is a fascinating account of the Civil War from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant, a nurse/spy and a one armed cavalry man. Kianan Davenport writes such a vivid almost life like account of the Civil War that it made me feel I was on some of the battle fields and among the soldiers. Much of the telling is not for the weak stomached, but certainly an accurate account of the detritus of war. A novel with many details that I do not believe have been brought to life before. I particularly loved Johnny Tom's Eastern philosophy on the horrors of war and how the women responded to the changes that the Civil War created for them.
Jan Z-R (Jefferson, SD)
Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport mostly takes place during the civil war and the brutality and horror of that war almost edges out the other characters of the story: Johnny Tom who fights for the North, his daughter Era who is a spy for the North, and Era's lover, the Confederate soldier Warren. Johnny Tom's character is enlarged by his being a Chinese immigrant and this fact adds more layers of intensity to this already intense story.
Bob S. (Lawrenceburg, IN)
an un-Civil War with no winners
Era's cover as a spy is a nurse in the war, the story begins with Era and Warren meeting each other as Era helps nurse Warren back to health from a wound. Their love affair deepens, as does the Era's guilt at the secret she is hiding from Warren. Era's being a spy is a result of her trying to find her father whose affiliation to the North is another secret Era is keeping from Warren.
Nobody comes out clean in this book, especially the North or South "militaries", but the love and presence of the three main characters is amazingly told. I came away feeling like my life was enriched by reading about these three people, and they will stay with me for a long time.
This marvelous work has no heroes and no villains but only victims of the seemingly endless ritual called war. Kiana Davenport focuses on the lives of three people caught up in the absurd pursuit of a victory without victors, of a laurel wreath of dead flowers. A dedicated nurse who must use her position to be a carrier of death--her Chinese father, fighting for a nation which does not love him and for a cause in which he cannot believe--a young soldier who becomes the love of his enemy: these three are interconnected with all the others whose lives are blighted by slaughter without meaning. Only love can save any of them from the abyss of madness which the war opens for them--that love can bring compassion to the hearts of those who must harden themselves for the insanity which was the Civil War, and, by extension, every war that's ever been fought.
A H (Arvada, CO)
With real and accessible characters, this book is almost too hard to read at times, like reading a memoir more so than fiction. The warmth and humanity of the story allows you to move beyond the suffering and trust the author and the story she needs to tell.
Jill S. (Eagle, ID)
A Spy Lover
This book is not for the faint of heart. At times the descriptions of of the Civil War were distracting, but the main characters (Johnny Tom, Era, and Warren) are vivid and believable. Based upon her family history and historical fact, Ms. Davenport has written a book that has it all: love, brutality, suffering, and will evoke a lot of emotions. This book will be a great addition to any book club.