Just another GR refugee. Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.
I spent much of the last few days in bed, so it was a real treat to have a good book to read while I was there. This was that book.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy looks at the lives of four women, who at one point or another played any or all of these roles, in the American Civil War. (OK, only one, Emma Edmondson, was a soldier.) Their individual stories show the general trend of women moving out of the house and their traditional limits on what was acceptable behavior, to take on all sorts of new roles, in their country's hour of need.
Who are the women?
Belle Boyd, the teenaged vamp of the Confederacy. She shot a Yankee soldier in her mother's parlor at 17, and took off from there. If this "Secesh Cleopatra" was for some reason not already the center of attention, she would do whatever it took to make her that. Her chapters generally had me laughing my head off, at this Erica Kane in crinolines.
Rose O'Neal Greenhow, the Washington D.C. society matron. A widow, she had been one of the queens of Washington social life before the war, and turned her ability to charm and flatter men to her, and the Confederacy's, advantage.
Emma Edmondson, aka "Frank Thompson," a soldier of the 2nd Michigan. She served as private, postman, and spy, and fought in several major battles.
Elizabeth Van Lew, better known as "Crazy Bet" to all of Richmond, Virginia. She was a Unionist living in the wrong state when the war started, and ended up running one of the most important spy rings operating in the Confederacy. Her protection: she was a member of a very rich and socially prominent family.
The writing didn't get in the way of the women's stories, and was very smooth. Much recommended.