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Spy Lover, The: A Novel

Spy Lover, The: A Novel

4.5 4
by Kiana Davenport

Thrust into the savagery of the U.S. Civil War, a Chinese immigrant fighting for the Union Army, a nurse turned spy, and a one-armed Confederate cavalryman find their lives inextricably entwined.

Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant, is promised American citizenship if he serves with the Union Army.

But first he must survive the carnage of battles and rampant racism


Thrust into the savagery of the U.S. Civil War, a Chinese immigrant fighting for the Union Army, a nurse turned spy, and a one-armed Confederate cavalryman find their lives inextricably entwined.

Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant, is promised American citizenship if he serves with the Union Army.

But first he must survive the carnage of battles and rampant racism among the ranks. Desperate to find him, his daughter, Era, becomes a Union spy while nursing soldiers in Confederate camps. She falls in love with Warren, a one-armed cavalryman, and her loyalties become divided between her beloved father in the North and the man who sustains her in the South.

An extraordinary novel that will stand as a defining work on the Chinese immigrant experience, The Spy Lover is a paean to the transcendence of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Davenport, author of The Shark Dialogues and winner of Pushcart and O. Henry prizes, sets her most recent novel in the bloody middle years of the American Civil War. This ornate melodrama follows Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant and Union soldier, his daughter Era, a Union spy who works as a nurse in Confederate camps, and Warren Petticomb, the young Confederate soldier with whom Era finds herself in love. As these three struggle to navigate the horrors of war and the demands of heart and conscience, we witness the grim realities of combat alongside the terrors of slavery and racial prejudice. Davenport's extensive research is palpable in the rich period detail, and her knack for carefully observed imagery is peppered throughout via intricate set pieces, many of which describe truly gruesome scenes. For all the elaborate scenery, the story does not lack feeling. Johnny's heroism and longing for his family are keenly realized and the confused desperation of the lovers is painfully earnest. Although at times Davenport's highly wrought prose threatens to overwhelm her narrative, she manages to channel it into a perfectly Romantic, tormented story.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Amazon Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Kiana Davenport is the author of the best-selling novels House of Many Gods, Song of the Exile, and Shark Dialogues, and two story collections, House of Skin and Cannibal Nights. A Native Hawaiian, her novels and stories have won numerous awards and have been translated into twenty languages.

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Spy Lover, The: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I struggled to know how to rate this book. I will be up front--this is a very hard book to read. The writing style is fantastic. Kiana Davenport is a very descriptive writer, and you feel as though you are right there experiencing the action as it happens. But that is also what makes this a difficult read. Read on, and you may understand what I mean. First of all, the story has very little profanity, and it does have some sex scenes (that are not graphic, thankfully). But these are not the disturbing items. The horrors of the Civil War are described in detail, and you may find yourself wanting to look away as though it were a scene in a film. I found myself experiencing cold shivers more than once. But I have to say that I am glad I read those parts. I don't think many of us have any idea of how horrific the Civil War was. And this author does her best to give us a glimpse (and be glad it is only a glimpse)of what it may have been like. And it is told from a perspective I have never considered--Chinese-American. Oh, and Chinese-Native American. The story is tragic--I will warn you. It is not a feel-good romance that makes you feel all bubbly inside. This is a book full of reality, and you may long for the ending. But I believe I can say I am coming away from this book with a better understandig of the Civil War than I did. I would have liked some light-hearted moments, but it cccurs to me that this period of history was not light-hearted. It is a heavy topic. I found myself reliving some of the images from "Gone With the Wind" even though that movie couldn't do this time period true justice either. So if you are ready for a history lesson in a chilling story, ths may be the book for you. Don't enter it lightly, but I believe you will come away from the book with a deeper understanding of a tumultuous time in American history. I was sent a copy of ths book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Bookworm_Babblings More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This story begins by telling you of Johnny Tom’s past before he was thrust into the center of the Civil War. We watch him struggle in his youth to merely survive, experience the loss of those he holds dear repeatedly. We also meet his daughter Era, who becomes separated from her father and is desperately searching for any information on him whereabouts and whether he’s dead or alive. In her quest for knowledge, she finds love and experiences emotional turmoil as she has to decide which side she’s on and if she ever be reunited with her father. Kiana Davenport have woven a fantastic tale, complex yet complete. It puts you on an emotional rollercoaster and you will fall in love with the richness of these characters.
Accounting_Writer More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Kiana Davenport and have been ever since I purchased one of her short story collections years ago. I purchased The Spy Lover and set aside time to read it; I have a difficult time putting her books down once I start. I'm never disappointed, and this novel is no exception. This book focuses mainly on the Chinese immigrant experience during the civil war. It's graphic at times, but never boring. Davenport is a master of storytelling and this book is no exception. I highly recommend this book.
Stressed_Rach More than 1 year ago
First I want to say what a amazing book this was. There was so much research put into this book and with it based from Kiana Davenport’s ancestor Warren Davenport, named Warren Petticomb in the book I have no doubt that it will be a best seller. This is not a book I would have chosen to read as I am not really into war and historical books but I am glad I did read it. It was very interesting, I learnt a few things I did not know about. So it was educational for me too. There are three main characters in the book, Johnny who is a Chinese immigrant, he was forced to fight the south in the U.S Civil War, but changing to the Union because he hates slavery. He is driven to fight for freedom and seeing his wife and daughter once more. Era is Johnny’s daughter, she had agreed to spy in the North in exchange for information regarding the whereabouts of her father. She works as a nurse in a confederate hospital where she meets Warren Petticomb a Confederate cavelryman who loses an arm fighting in Shiloh. She tends him well and Era falls in love with Warren as does Warren with Era but will he still love her when he finds out the truth about her being a spy? I really liked this and knowing that it was based on family history gave it that extra believability!