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Monday, October 14, 2013

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Monday Night Book Discussions
(written by Lois Leveen)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  10/14/2013

        Mary El is a slave and servant to the Van Lew family.  Bet Van Lew is the daughter of slave holders.  Both women share a vision of a New South.  Bet see's the spark of something within Mary El and is determined to bring it to fruition.  When Bet inherits some family money, she purchases Mary and her mother's freedom from her own mother, setting both women (and the rest of the household slaves) free.  And that's when Mary El's life makes a dramatic shift.  The South will never be the same again.

     This is a fictional account of what may have happened within Mary Bowser's life.  Not a lot is known about her life, but what we do know is that she did work for the Van Lew's and she had a hand in helping to free slaves from all over the South.  We know she was educated, worked within the Underground Railroad, and was a spy for the North.

     While the rest of the story is entirely fictional, it is not outside the realm of possibility.  This story is a fast paced, easy to read book with action and adventure.  There is intrigue, secrets, alliances between people who might never have met were it not for the situations surrounding the characters, and there is heartache, death, destruction.  The characters are well-formed, even the secondary characters.  I felt as though I was right there, in the South, during the Civil War.  Even knowing the logical ending of this story does not diminish the telling of the tale.

     A lot had been written about the Civil War and this book does a great job with the retelling of this time in the history of the United States.

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