The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport ~
Thrust into the savagery of the Civil War, a Chinese immigrant serving in the Union Army, a nurse doubling as a spy for the North, and a one-armed Confederate cavalryman find their lives inextricably entwined.
Fleeing drought and famine in China, Johnny Tom arrives in America with dreams of becoming a citizen. Having survived vigilantes hunting “yellow dogs” and slave auction- blocks, Johnny is kidnapped from his Mississippi village by Confederate soldiers, taken from his wife and daughter, and forced to fight for the South. Eventually defecting to the Union side, he is promised American citizenship in exchange for his loyal services. But first Johnny must survive the butchery of battles and the cruelties inflicted on non-white soldiers.
Desperate to find Johnny, his daughter, Era, is enlisted as a spy. She agrees to work as a nurse at Confederate camps while scouting for the North. Amidst the unspeakable carnage of wounded soldiers, she finds solace in Warren Petticomb, a cavalryman who lost an arm at Shiloh. As devastation mounts in both armies, Era must choose where her loyalties lie—with her beloved father in the North, or with the man who passionately sustains her in the South.
A novel of extraordinary scope 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.
THE SPY LOVER is ostensibly a novel about the abiding love between a man and a woman, between a father and daughter, and the love of a man for his country. Ultimately, it is a meditation on the ethical choice, on honoring one’s moral obligation.
“I never planned to write an historical novel, or a love story, or a spy thriller, or a story about how brave Chinese soldiers were used as throw-aways in the Civil War. I simply set out to tell the story of my ancestors, who fought on opposing sides of that War.”
- Kiana Davenport
Genre: Fiction, History, Military, Romance
Format: paperback, ebook, cd
Length: 320 pages, 863 KB
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Buying Links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
About the Author
KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands who arrived almost two thousand years ago from Tahiti and the Tuamotu's. On her father's side, she traces her ancestry to John Davenport, the puritan clergyman who co-founded the American colony of New Haven, Connecticut in 1638.
Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, SHARK DIALOGUES, SONG OF THE EXILE, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, and a new novel, THE SPY LOVER, now available in paperback and on Kindle. She is also the author of the collections, HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES Volume II, and OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME III. All three collections have been Kindle bestsellers. She has also been a guest blogger on Huffington Post.
A graduate of the University of Hawaii, Kiana has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000. Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Hawaii and New York City.
Points of Interest
• U.S. Civil War Research – Kiana’s research for THE SPY LOVER was exhaustive. For five years she studied correspondences and documents and traveled to the battlefields of the Civil War, discovering facts that she hoped would fascinate her readers. She learned about Southern women collecting urine from which to distill niter for making gunpowder. And she learned how women planted and harvested poppies, then scored and gathered from poppy-pods the sap known as opium. She read books on spy-codes used in the War, what spies were paid, and how they were executed when caught by the enemy. She lived and breathed the Civil War, letting it engulf her as she wrote her novel.
• Kiana’s Heritage – Kiana’s ancestor, Warren Rowan Davenport, was a cavalryman who rode for the Confederacy in the Civil War with a famous unit known as the Prattville Dragoons, of Prattville, Alabama. Her research on Warren Davenport entailed reading over forty books on the War, then basing her fictional character, Warren Petticomb, on her Southern ancestor. Johnny Tom is based on another of Kiana’s ancestors, John Tommy Kam, who emigrated from Canton, China, to Hawaii and finally to the East coast of the U.S. While Kiana had access to tattered correspondences and documents from Warren Davenport, she had little but word-of-mouth stories from her Chinese uncle about his ancestor, John Tommy Kam. Eventually, she uncovered articles about Chinese soldiers who had fought valiantly in the Civil War, including two articles about John Tommy Kam. Finally, she discovered his war records, and the grounds at Gettysburg where he is buried with his comrades, the Excelsior Brigade of New York State.
• Multicultural Themes - THE SPY LOVER is the story of Chinese soldiers who fought valiantly for a country that, afterwards, refused them American citizenship. It also unveils the gross mistreatment of Native Americans, African Americans, “mix-bloods” and other minorities who served honorably in the American Civil War. Importantly, it is also the tragic story of Native American women - mothers and daughters - kidnapped and raped by slave-owners who used them as breeders of a more “superior” kind of slave.
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