Mary is a loving daughter, a quick-witted girl, and a slave to one of the wealthiest families in Richmond, Virginia. When Bet Van Lew, the outspoken daughter of the family that owns Mary, decides to send her to Philadelphia to be educated, Mary must leave her parents to seize her freedom.
Life in the North offers Mary a different kind of education than she ever expected. Carefully keeping the secrets of her own enslaved family, she joins the abolition movement to bring fugitive slaves to freedom. As the nation edges toward war, Mary defies Virginia law by returning to Richmond, vowing to care for her ailing father—and to fight for emancipation. Knowing that slaves are considered incapable of intelligence, she poses as a slave in the Confederate White House to spy on President Jefferson Davis. Together Mary and Bet risk their own lives to smuggle invaluable information to the Union commanders.
As illness and hunger ravage the city, Mary's espionage leads her to deceive even those who are closest to her. Just when it seems all her dangerous gambles to end slavery will pay off, the death and destruction of the war take their greatest toll, and Mary discovers that everything comes at a cost—even freedom.
Based on a true story , written with immense heart, The Secrets of Mary Bowser is an illuminating and inspiring tale of injustice and courage, friendship and war—and of one daring woman willing to sacrifice her own freedom to change the course of history.
My mother-in-law, the well read Queen Bee (follow her awesome blog HERE) got first dibs and this is what she had to say....
The pain that a human can inflict on their fellow man is mind boggling. Can you imagine giving birth and then having that child sold to another person for a life of cruelty and hard work? I can't get my mind around that. Such is the story that author Leveen tells us. Although Mary Van Lew Bowser, born a slave to the rich Van Lew family of Richmond, was able to stay and work with her mother ,Minerva, at the Van Lew mansion. Her father, Lewis, was owned by another Richmond slave owner, so she saw him only on Sundays. She had more of a "family" life than most slaves. Bet Van Lew was the abolishionist daughter of the Van Lew family, and so bought the slaves from her mother and freed them. Which created a dilemma for the parents of Mary Van Lew. Freed slaves had to leave Virginia within one year of their freedom,they could never return. Bet Van Lew sent Mary to Philadelphia for an education, supplied her with living expenses and spending money. Her mother Minerva, stayed behind and kept secret her freedom so she could stay with her husband.
When Mary learns that her mother has passed and that a war will break out between the north & south over slavery, she heads back to Richmond and life as a "slave". She has to keep her freedom secret. She ends up working in the Gray House for Jefferson Davis' wife and she ends up working with her former owner, Bet Van Lew, as a spy for the Union Army.
Leveen has created a rare look into the world of slavery, the Civil War and the toll it took on human life. Real people, in a true story of bravery. This book is well written, and well worth your time.
Sounds like a must read to me! Pick up your copy today on Amazon....
I am so pleased to tell you that one lucky RBM reader will win a copy of The Secrets of Mary Bowers. Thanks so much to the sponsor and here is how to enter...
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