Miss Lizzie’s War: The Double Life of Southern Belle Spy Elizabeth Van Lew

Rosemary Agonito. Globe Pequot, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-7627-8012-9
In 1843, Elizabeth Van Lew, a prominent society woman in Richmond, Va., freed her family’s nine slaves and used her inheritance to also buy and free their relatives. When the Civil War began, she visited Union soldiers at the Richmond prison, bringing them food and supplies, and helping some escape. In the Confederacy, she led an underground Unionist movement, serving as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s spy and placing freed slave Mary Bowser as a spy in the home of Jefferson Davis. Agonito, author of the historical novel Buffalo Calf Road Woman: The Story of a Warrior at Little Big Horn, questionably blends fact and fiction about Van Lew (whose story has been told in a previous book and TV movie ), noting, “as a novelist I have, of course, taken liberties and imagined scenes to enhance dramatic effect.” In order to connect Van Lew with the battlefront, the author introduces the fictitious Maj. Allen Lee Rockwell, who serves as a romantic interest before he returns to battle. She also admits to introducing a group of fictional slaves who escape to Van Lew’s care, all raising the question of whether this account of a woman of rare courage should be considered a historical account at all. Map. Agent: Winifred Golden, Castiglia Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-7627-8588-9
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