The Spymistress: A Novel
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini is back with another enthralling historical novel set during the Civil War era, this time inspired by the life of “a true Union woman as true as steel” who risked everything by caring for Union prisoners of war — and stealing Confederate secrets.
Born to slave-holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia, and educated by Northern Quakers, Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time. When her native state seceded in April 1861, Van Lew’s convictions compelled her to defy the new Confederate regime. Pledging her loyalty to the Lincoln White House, her courage would never waver, even as her wartime actions threatened not only her reputation, but also her life.
Van Lew’s skills in gathering military intelligence were unparalleled. She helped to construct the Richmond Underground and orchestrated escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison under the guise of humanitarian aid. Her spy ring’s reach was vast, from clerks in the Confederate War and Navy Departments to the very home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Although Van Lew was inducted posthumously into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, the astonishing scope of her achievements has never been widely known. In Chiaverini’s riveting tale of high-stakes espionage, a great heroine of the Civil War finally gets her due.
Hall into the Blue Room, a graceful ellipse with tall windows overlooking the south lawn and the Potomac River. It seemed to Kate to be in better repair than the other public rooms of the Executive Mansion, which were shabbily furnished with threadbare and tobacco-stained rugs, broken furniture, torn wallpaper, and ruined draperies, from which souvenir collectors had snipped pieces until they hung in tatters. Here, however, all was in elegant order. The chairs and settees were upholstered in rich.
Herself across the table from a Mr. William Howard Russell, a correspondent for the London Times, who seemed as charmed by Kate’s conversation as she was by his wit and accent. The food was excellent, the talk around the table bright and lively and quick, but whenever Mr. Lincoln spoke, all other voices hushed and all faces turned to him expectantly as he spun an amusing tale or made a point with a clever witticism. From the first course to the sweets, Mrs. Lincoln was so merry and chatty and.
Daughter, living on Church Hill, have lately attracted public notice by their assiduous attentions to the Yankee prisoners confined in this city. Whilst every true woman in this community has been busy making articles of comfort or necessity for our troops, or administering to the wants of the many hundreds of sick, who, far from their homes, which they left to defend our soil, are fit subjects for our sympathy, these two women have been expending their opulent means in aiding and giving comfort.
Soldiers had come from Fredericksburg, famished and weary, having had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours. While the ministers preached on, young wives and elderly matrons alike began stealing quietly from the pews, determined to share their family’s dinners with the passing soldiers. Soon Broad and Ninth Streets were lined with women, children, and servants carrying baskets of food—loaves of bread and hams and apples and hunks of cheese, anything they had been able to seize in a hurry. As.
General was so devout and dutiful that he ordered his hungry soldiers to observe the March 27 day of fasting and prayer as President Davis had decreed. Not so the Van Lews. Long ago Lizzie had resolved to enjoy an even better meal than usual on Mr. Davis’s official fast days, and when storm clouds rolled in by midmorning and thunderstorms threatened, she was inspired to invite their Unionist friends for a feast. The windows would be shut tight against the storm, and no one would be out walking.