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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Chiaverini delights fans by transforming true events into riveting historical fiction.

Set during the Civil War, The Spymistress introduces little-known Elizabeth Van Lew, a Virginia woman who used a vast spy network to steal Confederate secrets for the Union. But her next mission would prove the ultimate test of her mettle: infiltrate the infamous Confederate Libby Prison and orchestrate a daring escape.

©2013 Jennifer Chiaverini (P)2013 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Spymistress

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Civil War era book!

What made the experience of listening to The Spymistress the most enjoyable?

I really like the narrator's voice. She put a lot of feeling in her voice while reading the book. I've now looked up other books she has narrated.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spymistress?

I think the most memorable was when the south was beginning to put women into the prisons and how the main characters had to try and work around what the south was doing.

Which character – as performed by Christina Moore – was your favorite?

I really liked the mother's character and then of course the daughter's .

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to it while on a trip and didn't stop the tape at all. I really enjoyed listening to the story.

7 people found this helpful

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Learned so much!

I'm a history fan and am very familiar with Virginia civil war history, but there were so many interesting details woven into this narrative that I didn't know and found myself Googling often as I read. The narrative suffered a bit through some over telling of history (rather than just focusing on Van Lew) but overall I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this unsung hero of the Union.

While Christina Moore's characterization and reading were fine, her voice was way too elderly-sounding for a main character in her early 40's. She sounded like a woman in her late 60's or early 70's, not an energetic single woman just barely at middle age.

5 people found this helpful

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Very Good Historical Fiction

Would you listen to The Spymistress again? Why?

Yes - I would wait a while after I have read more Civil War facts and stats. I am sure that there are parts I would pick up the 2nd time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spymistress?

Probably Lizzy's last encounter with the Libby Prison commandant. However, there are many parts of this book that keep you listening waiting to see what is going to happen next and if she is going to get caught.

What about Christina Moore’s performance did you like?

She did a very good job of giving each character their own unique vocal features and transitioned between them well.

Who was the most memorable character of The Spymistress and why?

Lizzy, who is the focus of the entire book. She is a very intriguing and resourceful character.

Any additional comments?

As a Civil War re-enactor and having read a lot of CW literature, much of the historical portion blends in very well. I was able to relate very well as to what taking place at the time. The authors description of the emotions, events, tragedy and destruction that took place at this time in history of our great country is done very well.

4 people found this helpful

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Easy to listen to

Story moved at a good pace to hold interest while driving 1200 miles. I appreciate this author can express conflict without graphic details. A family can listen to her works without being concerned about embarrassing moments.

As narrators go, I am a fan of Christina Moore. She does character voices in a way that distinguishes roles without taking to extremes in pitch or accent. Her neutral performing voice -not in dialog-is pleasant and her pace is perfect.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful!

Very enjoyable. I highly recommend. Good mix of history and creativity. It was hard to put down.

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Boring chattering details

Inside Lizzie' s head. More detail than overview, emotional dialogue, monotonous reading of the story, angry despair and swishing of skirts. Not all the ginger cakes and buttermilk in Lizzie's basket could lure me into five more hours of slogging through this tome.

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Needed More Action

I enjoyed the historical fiction and the heroism from a woman and her perspective during the Civil War, but somehow even in the middle of the war, it felt lackluster. It was hard to feel for the characters because they all seemed flat and there were no twists or cliffhangers. Nothing to keep me coming back. The story of Elizabeth Van Hugh is fascinating, but this book was not. Additionally, the reading was so not good and I couldn’t tell the characters apart, so that made it even more difficult to follow.

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Great Historical (semi) fiction

Great writing! Recommend this book as a timely reminder to what so many fought and died for. We must move forward to a more just nation for ALL our citizens.

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One of the best historical fiction

The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini is considered to be fiction, but it is about a real woman.

Elizabeth Van Lew ran a significant intelligence network on behalf of the Union while ministering to Northern prisoners during the U.S. Civil War. While this woman did exist, this historical fiction novel fills in the gaps in her story, weaving together known reality with imagined specific details.

This was my first, though it will no means be my last, book by Chiaverini. It is one of the best historical novels that I have ever read. It kept me riveted and eager to find out what would happen next. I like this kind of historical fiction, as it sticks closely to the truth while also making the history come alive and seem realistic. It is also exciting to see a role in which women took the lead to fight against the evil slavery during the Civil War.

Five stars

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What a great character

Miss Lizzie was a wonderful and formidable character. Thanks to her bravery and compassion and stubbornness, many a soldier survived the Civil War prison. I wonder how many people have her to thank for their ancestors survival and their family line!