Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser: A NovelWhat would possess a freed slave in the pre Civil War south to risk her freedom and go back to Richmond where any person of color can be grabbed and sold?

The chance to be  spy, of course...and in the process free ALL the slaves, not just herself.

Though a very long read, I enjoyed immersing myself in Mary's story the last four days. It starts with her as a child and her mother keeps telling her that Jesus has a plan for her.. (No, this isn't a religious book.)

There's so much food for thought in this book, I can't possibly cover it all... from "we in the house" to African Americans that are free looking down on those that aren't to the big question, "Why stay in slavery?" There's prejudice, there's white people that say their abolitionists yet boss servants around just like slave owners, there's a young African American woman trying to get educated and make the most of herself, realizing her place in life, risking all for family and love.  There's Quakers, snotty Philadelphia people, brash Confederate soldiers, Jeff Davis and  his horrid wife... There's an incredible cast of characters and at the middle of it all is Mary.

Having already ready much of Civil War history, I grew a tad bored as it got into war details, but I still learned something new here and there or read a different POV. I especially was impacted by the whole, "Lincoln isn't fighting for us. He's only freeing us to increase his army" part. That's not a direct quote, but a part of the book's story line. Too often, we nowadays forget some of the real history behind that war. It's been sugar coated to make people look like heroes. 
In my opinion, the real heroes were people like Wilson and Mary Bowser, and even Miss. Bet. 

Favorite quote: "History's not so bad once you get past who's who and start learning what they did to each other. Those whites can be as nasty to one another as they are to us, if they're kings and queens and whatnot."

This was an ARC from Amazon Vine.

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