MLA Gold Award Site

Read what people think about The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport, and write your own review.

Summary | Reviews | More Information | More Books

The Spy Lover

by Kiana Davenport

The Spy Lover
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Aug 2012
    303 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this book


Page 5 of 5
There are currently 38 reader reviews for The Spy Lover
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD) (12/01/12)

I Love " The Spy Lover"
This book is the greatest reason I love to read! It took me to the era of the Civil War and to the wet cold climate in which it took place - even though I was cozily snuggled up in my reading chair. I learned facts about American history that were never a part of school lessons. I met three characters who showed human strengths and frailties and struggled to overcome the emotional and physical adversities of their lives.

The book is a page turner that I will recommend to my friends - even the ones who love non-fiction best.
Catharine L. (Petoskey, (11/30/12)

not for the faint-hearted
I learned alot from this book. Didn't know that Chinese immigrant men were kidnapped to serve in the Confederate army or southern women grew poppies for opium. I enjoyed the story line told from the father's view, Johnny Tom, the daughter's, Era, and the Confederate soldier, Warren. The writing is beautiful. The graphic descriptions of war, abuse toward nonwhites and women might bother some readers. The only reason I didn't rate the book a 5, I thought the ending dragged on. It is a book I will reread.
Bink W. (Sopchoppy, FL) (11/28/12)

Extremely graphic
You will need a strong stomach to finish this one. Excellent, realistic war between the states novel. Removes any idea of the romance of armed conflict. Very interesting and human characters and story line. However, the violence is so strong that I've had to take the reading a little at a time and NOT before bed or with meals.
Jan Z-R (11/28/12)

Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport
I really don't know what to say about this book. It is a wonderful story, I loved it but I don't know to whom I could recommend it. There is so much brutality in it, and it is filled graphically with the butchery of the Civil War that there were times I had to put it down, or skip parts. It is a VERY difficult read.
Having said that, it is also a love story that has so much substance to it I will want to recommend it to everyone I know. The love between the two main characters, Warren and Era, is wholly believable, but the love between the father, Johnny Tom and daughter, Era, is even more so. (Johnny Tom is a character that will stay with me for a long time.)
This book is Davenport at her best with characters, character development, and story. While it doesn't have the historical sweep of Song of the Exile, her historical focusing in Spy Lover gives this book its intensity and power that is quite incredible.
Cynthia D. (Germantown, TN) (11/25/12)

History Comes Alive!
This compelling story is set within US Civil War, revealing events through three distinctive individuals: Johnny, a Chinese immigrant whose enchanting personality survives prison, hunger and pain. Era, beautiful nurse skillfully cares for soldiers under harsh conditions. Warren, the Southern soldier who falls in love with Era is enraged by North's invasion of Southern way of life. Surprising events that were not in schoolbooks are revealed. Not a war story, definitely not a romance, this beautifully detailed novel provides pleasurable reading for anyone.
Vam (San Antonio, Texas) (11/24/12)

Discovery of the relevancy of the human heart
While I want to emphatically deny that my review was impacted by the means by which I obtained this book, I feel obliged to state that I received this book without charge in exchange for my agreement to give a true appraisal of it. What follows is my honest evaluation.

The author has done a magnificent job of creating a beautiful story of love made especially meaningful because it has survived prejudice, feelings of betrayal, sorrow, the beastly ugliness/savagery of war, forgiveness, and individual searches for self. Notice that I did not call it a "love story" because those words describe a romance. This book conveys deeper feelings and thoughts and the love found in the book expands to more than just one mere man and a woman.

We all are certainly aware of other Civil War novels – that history has been widely cussed and discussed as a period of national disaster and for certain people, feelings about that history continues to separate our nation. This is a Civil War novel but it is written about another group of people who also suffered terrible abuse in my country – a country that I deeply love with great pride because it does in fact offer liberty and justice for all. Remarkably, many of us have lived a full life mostly unaware of the magnitude of this other shameful period in our history. The author successfully gives us a history lesson about this abuse without making us feel she is chiding us.

The man in the novel is a wounded confederate soldier and the woman (the product of a marriage between an immigrant from China and a Native American woman) is the nurse who cares for him. The novel traces the lives of three people: the soldier, the nurse, and the nurse's father. The Chapters in the book switch back and forth allowing each of the three main characters to narrate their individual stories. In this way, we can successfully become the alter ego of each of them – sharing their feelings, thoughts, pain, and love. While this might sound like it might be confusing, the flow to me was quite natural.

I recommend it to audiences of all ages – with a warning in advance however that the descriptions not only tell about the need for forgiveness felt by the people who survive but they also provide graphic accounts of the horror of the battle fields.

More Information


Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Never-Open Desert Diner
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Velazquez
    The Vanishing Velazquez
    by Laura Cumming
    Author Laura Cumming spins out a tale of obsession and ruin in her latest book, The Vanishing Vel&#...
  • Book Jacket
    The Fair Fight
    by Anna Freeman
    Anna Freeman's debut novel, The Fair Fight, highlights the world of boxing in England during ...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.


Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H Now B C?

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.