Based on a remarkable true story, The Secrets of Mary Bowser is an inspiring tale of one daring woman's willingness to sacrifice her own freedom to change the course of history
All her life, Mary has been a slave to the wealthy Van Lew family of Richmond, Virginia. But when Bet, the willful Van Lew daughter, decides to send Mary to Philadelphia to be educated, she must leave her family to seize her freedom.
Life in the North brings new friendships, a courtship, and a far different education than Mary ever expected, one that leads her into the heart of the abolition movement. With the nation edging toward war, she defies Virginia law by returning to Richmond to care for her ailing fatherand to fight for emancipation. Posing as a slave in the Confederate White House in order to spy on President Jefferson Davis, Mary deceives even those who are closest to her to aid the Union command.
Just when it seems that all her courageous gambles to end slavery will pay off, Mary discovers that everything comes at a costeven freedom.
About the Author
Award-winning author Lois Leveen's work has appeared in the New York Times, on NPR, and in literary journals and anthologies. A former faculty member at UCLA and Reed College, she lives in Portland, Oregon.
“Masterfully written, The Secrets of Mary Bowser shines a new light onto our country’s darkest history. Balancing fire and grace, the story of Mary Bowser is an ethical journey we won’t soon forget, one that takes us from hatred to courage to love.”
-Brunonia Barry, bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places
“The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a good old-fashioned historical novel packed with drama, intrigue, love, loss, and most of all, the resilience of a remarkable heroine who forges her own destiny from the first page. What a treat!”
--Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
“Deftly balancing history, romance and adventure, Leveen honors the life and historical importance of a brave, resourceful woman.”
“Told with clarity, confidence, and courage, The Secrets of Mary Bowser illuminates an untold and important story about slavery, the Civil War, and the role of women in achieving emancipation. A riveting and powerful book.”
-Naseem Rakha, internationally bestselling author of The Crying Tree
“Lois Leveen has written a captivating novel...[she] demonstrates considerable skill bringing the historical period to life. Mary’s world is nuanced and complicated, but the reader is thoroughly drawn into it, never lost. The narrative voice carries with it a seamless authority, rare in novels of this type.”
“Deftly integrating historical research into this gripping tale of adventure, love, and national conflict, Leveen brings Mary to life and evenhandedly reveals the humanity on both sides of America’s deadliest war.”
“The Secrets of Mary Bowser is not only fascinating reading, but also historical fiction of the highest caliber.”
“Author Lois Leveen’s meticulously researched historical fiction is best consumed with sweet tea and a porch swing.”
“This novel will sweep you into the world of Mary Bowser without making you feel as if you’re sitting in school instead of on the beach.”
-Statesman Journal (Oregon)