The Spy Lover

Kiana Davenport. Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-61218-341-1
Davenport, author of The Shark Dialogues and winner of Pushcart and O. Henry prizes, sets her most recent novel in the bloody middle years of the American Civil War. This ornate melodrama follows Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant and Union soldier, his daughter Era, a Union spy who works as a nurse in Confederate camps, and Warren Petticomb, the young Confederate soldier with whom Era finds herself in love. As these three struggle to navigate the horrors of war and the demands of heart and conscience, we witness the grim realities of combat alongside the terrors of slavery and racial prejudice. Davenport's extensive research is palpable in the rich period detail, and her knack for carefully observed imagery is peppered throughout via intricate set pieces, many of which describe truly gruesome scenes. For all the elaborate scenery, the story does not lack feeling. Johnny's heroism and longing for his family are keenly realized and the confused desperation of the lovers is painfully earnest. Although at times Davenport's highly wrought prose threatens to overwhelm her narrative, she manages to channel it into a perfectly Romantic, tormented story. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 08/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
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