Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
by Karen Abbott

Why did you choose this book? women in the Civil War
When did you read this book? September 2015
Who should read this book? readers of history, particular Civil War era
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy from Goodreads
Karen Abbott, the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and “pioneer of sizzle history” (USA Today), tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything to become spies during the Civil War.
Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.
After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.
Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy contains 39 black & white photos and 3 maps.
My Review

This is the story of four women who acted in untraditional roles during the Civil War. Interestingly, two of the women in this book worked for the Confederate cause and two worked to preserve the Union. I have been wanting to read this one for a long time. I’ve read several fictional accounts of Elizabeth Van Lew (Miss Lizzie’s War and The Spymistress), and listened to a Missed In History episode about Sarah Emma Edmonds, so when I was offered the chance to participate in the book tour, I grabbed it!

As much as I was looking forward to this book, it still took me awhile to get into it. I think that is partially because the book started with the least interesting (to me) woman. But I think I also had to get used to the author’s writing style. I think I had anticipated that the book would tell four different stories, one woman at a time. Instead, she told the story of the war, chronologically, through the eyes of these women. Once I got to know each woman, the story flowed smoothly. I think this would make a great five-part docudrama!

This would also make a great book club selection for the right book club. The book is a little long, and not all book clubs would have the time or desire to tackle this. But for those that are motivated, there is plenty to discuss; the motivations of the women; the ways they influenced the outcome of the war and how things might have turned out differently; the character flaws of the women; the traditional roles of women in this era! There is a reading guide on the author’s website, where you can also find an excerpt.

If you enjoy reading about the Civil War, or enjoy reading about women in non-traditional roles, this one is for you!

You can view an interview of Karen Abbott discussing Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy below.

About Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City, American Rose, and, most recently, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by Library Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Amazon, and Flavorwire, and which was optioned by Sony for a miniseries. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives in New York City, where she’s at work on her next book.

Find out more about Karen at her website.

My Rating:  ★★★★   4 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.

Karen’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, September 8th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, September 9th: Let Them Read Books – guest post
Thursday, September 9th: The Maiden’s Court
Friday, September 11th: Cold Read
Monday, September 14th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, September 15th: Sveltana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, September 16th: Man of La Book
Thursday, September 17th: Bookworm Meets Bookworm
Monday, September 21st: A Book Geek
Tuesday, September 22nd: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, September 23rd: As I turn the pages
Thursday, September 24th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, September 29th: Raven Haired Girl – guest post
Thursday, October 1st: Unabridged Chick
post signature

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, this would definitely make for a great docudrama - I'd watch it for sure!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.