This novel opens after Elizabeth Van Lew's death. Her ghost is reflecting on her life as a Unionist spy in the heart of the Confederacy, Richmond. The story is interspersed with encounters with other ghosts giving the reader even more valuable insight into her life and times.
Elizabeth Van Lew was a real person who risked everything to remain loyal to the government of the United States. Van Lew's pro-government anti-slavery stance was well known in the Richmond community. Liza takes food and books to the Union troops imprisoned in Richmond's notorious Libby Prison. General Winder, CSA commandant at Libby Prison, suspected that she was a spy and sent a Confederate officer to live in her house. Van Lew discovers inadvertently that her family had inherited a whorehouse from a family friend. When she discovers that the madam and several of the girls have pro-government sympathies, the house becomes a gold mine for gathering intelligence information from loose-lipped officers seeking to impress the ladies. Her brother John gets conscripted into the Confederate Army at first he's attached to General Winder's staff, but when his assignment is changed to a combat position, he deserts and flees north. Liza by war's end became the head of the spy network and even had a former slave, now free, keeping her apprised of what was going on in Jefferson's Davis' home.
Didn't actually read this one. Always meant to... will you tell me about it? :)
This was interesting, but I much preferred Jennifer Chiaverini's THE SPYMISTRESS, which was told in chronological order. This book jumped around in time, and switched voice between the living Miss Van Lew and the ghost of Miss Van Lew.