Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

I’ve had this book on my TBR for longer than I can remember but no time ever felt like the right time until Read Harder 2020 put a doorstopper on the task list. I tried out some other books but couldn’t quite get into them. Truth be told, it was a weird time for me and reading lately as it is. Before the pandemic hit, I was not having a good time choosing the next book to begin with. I’ve started and stopped several, even from authors I normally love. I think a part of it has been anticipation of some of the finales coming up. I will say that Ash Princess was a welcome surprise in the midst of that but following it up proved harder than it should have been.

Even with this, I could have ended the audiobook about 6 hours sooner than it did. A part of me appreciates that Abbott included the whole story of the women beyond the war, but I mostly could have just been done with their story by then. I don’t know if I’d say there was too much information or that it was too detailed, but some of middle just didn’t hold me and I was anxious for the end before it came.

That said, I love and appreciate that Abbott had two women from either side of the war. I find it important to remember the intricacies of this particular war and her choices certainly help. It’s not a matter of defending one side, but that there was a lot of strife in families and communities about whether you agreed with the side your were supposed to be on. Few things exemplify that more than what these women did for their beliefs despite what the people around them believed. They risked their lives more than once to get the intel that was needed to plan with or to thwart the enemy in whatever way they could.

The story of each woman is pretty interesting in itself, and I love the way they intertwine. Abbott does an excellent job of showing the lives of the women, the way that they got the job done, the attitudes of people around them, and the effect of their efforts. It is quite a through account and a great piece of herstory and a great choice for Read Harder’s doorstopper written after 1950 written by a woman. Add it to your TBR on Goodreads or Litsy.

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