Miss Lizzie’s War
While Richmond, Virginia suffers through the American Civil War, the wealthy Elizabeth van Lew supports the war effort—for the Union. Starting by bringing food and encouragement to Union prisoners in Richmond’s miserable prisons, Elizabeth soon is deeply involved in a spy network. Again and again, her charm and quick wit save her from detection, even as the stakes grow higher.
I enjoyed this novel about one of the Civil War’s most famous female spies, although there were some long stretches of narrative which made me wonder at times if the author wouldn’t have been happier writing nonfiction. This improved as the novel progressed, however.
A running motif of the novel is Lizzie’s chats with the shade of her dead father. Once I got accustomed to these ghostly appearances, I rather enjoyed them. Agonito also invents a love story for the heroine (as she acknowledges in the author’s note), which is handled sensitively. Although most of the story is told from Lizzie’s point of view, we occasionally see the action through the eyes of soldiers, the Confederate first family, and assorted Richmonders as well, which adds depth to the story. (I did think that an unpleasant character named Edward Higginbotham was underutilized.)
All in all, this was an inspiring novel about a courageous woman.