LIAR, TEMPTRESS, SOLDIER, SPY by Karen Abbott
Available now from Harper Audio.
From the Publisher:
“In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything—their homes, their families, and their very lives—during the Civil War.
Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named Frank Thompson, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines, all the while fearing that her past would catch up with her. The beautiful widow Rose O’Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians, used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals, and sailed abroad to lobby for the Confederacy, a journey that cost her more than she ever imagined. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.
Abbott’s pulse-quickening narrative weaves the adventures of these four forgotten daredevils into the tumultuous landscape of a broken America, evoking a secret world that will surprise even the most avid enthusiasts of Civil War–era history. With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoléon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring—and, until now, unsung—heroines.”
From the review at Literate Housewife:
“I’ve read many books, mainly novels, set during this time period. This book was altogether something new, showing the impact women had on the outcome of battles and the future of what is again our nation. I’m thankful for the fact that I’m partial to certain narrators. Without that, I might still be missing out on this book.
I wanted some Karen White, and I got Karen White at her very best. She did a masterful job bringing these bold, patriotic women to life. This was my first experience with her narrating non-fiction and I found her technique equally engaging. The spark in her reading let me know that she found this book just as intriguing as I did. Fiction is my passion, but listening to Karen makes me realize just how perfect the audiobook medium is for me to enjoy non-fiction as well.”
From the review at Chronicles:
“I highly recommend the audiobook version of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. I traveled back in time with Karen White, who inflects great feeling into her charming accents. There is a lot of historical fact in these pages, but Karen Abbott’s account reads like an entertaining work of fiction.
Whether or not you’re a history buff, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is a must read for everyone interested in remembering the forgotten history of the brave women who fought with passion and perseverance for what they believed in during the Civil War.”
My recording experience:
I think this was the most fun history book I’ve ever recorded. Typically in narrating non-fiction, it’s wise to avoid utilizing character voices or accents. But this book just demanded to be brought to life as fully as possible. I could hear these vibrant women speaking so clearly in my head with their accents and manners and quirks so that’s what came out of my mouth!
Karen Abbott, or Abbott as she is called by her friends was delightful to work with. Some of the many figures mentioned in the book were somewhat obscure historically, but she helped out enormously by hooking me up with her own sources who were the best hope for finding out how these people, now long gone, pronounced their names. She also writes prose that reads aloud well, not always the case in scholarly works. In my humble opinion, Abbott straddles the line well between scholarship that should be taken seriously and a piece of writing that can be digested by readers without a Phd in the subject. I hope y’all will agree.
Listen to a sample here: