(Review) The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

Publisher: William Morrow, May 12, 2012.
Genre: Historical fiction, slavery, Civil War, abolition movement.
Format: Deckle edge paperback.
Pages: 496.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
Source: Self-purchase.

Available at Amazon

Further links to read more about the real Mary Bowser.
American Civil War Story,
African American Registry,
How True is the Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen,
W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center.

Mary Bowser was born a slave in Richmond, Virginia. She is the only child of Lewis and Minerva. They are owned by the Van Lew family. At an early age, Minerva realizes her daughter Mary is gifted with intelligence. Bet Van Lew is an independent minded young woman. Her parents are the slave owners of Mary and her parents. Bet offers to send Mary to Philadelphia for schooling and freedom. Mary is a pre-teen when she leaves her beloved parents and moves to a large busy city. An education blossoms Mary. She returns to Virginia just before the first shots at Fort Sumter. 

My Thoughts:
My copy was a Target Book Club Pick in 2012. I've had it in my to be read pile too long. It dawned on me while I was reading Juliet's Nurse, I had another book by the same author (The Secrets of Mary Bowser). I felt reviewing the two books in the same week complimented one another.
I love the story of Mary Bowser. The main reason is Mary is beyond what I imagined her life story to be. A turning point in the story is when Mary as a young woman ponders her life as compared to other slaves; how she sees herself and and how she perceives she is seen. Further, how whites looked at her life and the categorizing of all slaves as having the same kind of life. The Secrets of Mary Bowser did not just show me Mary's life, but her thoughts and feelings. In addition, other people's attitudes, words, and actions in regards to Mary. These themes gave a dimension to the story I'd not anticipated.
Mary Bowser is a person who is a trusted. She is a faithful and loyal person. She is a deep-thinker. She is rational and calm. She is observant and cautious. She is a perfect personality for a spy.
The first half of the book is Mary's childhood and years spent in Philadelphia. The next half of the book is the Civil War years and her work as a spy.
The story is from the voice of Mary.
The last few lines of the book are priceless.