The Secrets of Mary Bowser — Praise and Reviews
"Deftly integrating historical research into this gripping tale of adventure, love, and national conflict, Leveen brings Mary to life and evenhandedly reveals the humanity on both sides of America's deadliest war."
— Publishers Weekly Read the full review (warning:contains spoilers)
"Leveen honors the life and historical importance of a brave, resourceful woman."
— Kirkus Review Read the full review (warning: contains spoilers)
Selected for Nine Notable Debut Novels
Selected for Top Ten Books of 2012 by Northwest Authors
— The Oregonian
Selected for Top Ten Mother's Day Gift Books
— Kirkus Review and the Huffington Post
"A brilliant historical novel . . . The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a rich, layered story of slavery, of the South and of what it means to fight for what we believe in, no matter the cost."
— Shelf Awareness Read the full review
"Beautifully written . . . a gripping book."
— The Toronto Star
"This book has "best seller" written all over it. The Secrets of Mary Bowser is not only fascinating reading, but also historical fiction of the highest caliber."
— The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Read the full review
"A captivating novel . . . Mary's world is nuanced and complicated. . . the reader is thoroughly drawn into it."
— The Oregonian Read the full review
Featured in Historical Novel Review. Read a PDF of the feature
"This novel will sweep you into the world of Mary Bowser."
— The Salem Statesman-Journal
"In addition to being an exciting read, The Secrets of Mary Bowser would be ideal for use as a common reader or in a first year experience program. Lois Leveen is a dynamic and engaging speaker and a natural teacher who can appeal to a wide range of audiences."
— Professor Gloria Hochstein, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and President-Elect, Sigma Tau Delta Board of Directors
"I cannot recommend this book enough. This should be a required read for everyone . . . Run to your bookstore or you library, and pick up a copy of The Secrets of Mary Bowser. It's an A++."
— The Unconventional Librarian
“Masterfully written . . . Balancing fire and grace, the story of Mary Bowser is an ethical journey we won’t soon forget, one that takes us from hatred to courage to love.”
— Brunonia Barry, bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places
“Told with clarity, confidence, and courage . . . A riveting and powerful book.”
— Naseem Rakha, international best-selling author of The Crying Tree
“Packed with drama, intrigue, love, loss, and most of all, the resilience of a remarkable heroine who forges her own destiny from the first page. What a treat!”
— Kelly O’Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
"Wonderfully written with just enough drama and adventure, Leveen’s novel is thoroughly inviting from page one."
— The Birmingham Times
"Meticulously researched historical fiction . . . best consumed with sweet tea and a porch swing."
— "Books of Summer" pick, Daily Candy
"A fascinating read about slavery, war and love. Lots to enjoy here, plenty to learn too and good scope for debate."
— Book Group Books
"A unique and fascinating novel, unsparing in portraying the moral conundrums facing both white and black in the American South before and during the Civil War."
"The Secrets of Mary Bowser offers reading groups much to discuss . . . there is so much to think about after reading this book."
— Lindsay Healy, The Little Reader Library
"Leveen excels at weaving together all the strands of a very complex story set during a complicated period in history. . . An intriguing, engaging read that will be an excellent catalyst for reading group discussion. "
— Teresa Majury, NEWBOOKS: The Magazine for Readers and Reading Groups
"Mary's courage and determination will inspire you."
"The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a beautiful and captivating story . . . The writing is outstanding, blending historical fact and fiction into an amazing story that will stick with you long after you have finished the book. I was hooked from the very first page of this compelling story."
— Michelle Vasquez, Life in Review
"[This] story will pull you in and won't let you go. This is definitely going to be on my Best Books of 2012 List."
— Freedom Acres Book Review
"Destined to be on many "best of the year" lists . . . Starting from the briefest of mentions of this remarkable woman in historical records, Leveen deftly fleshes out the story of Mary Bowser."
— We Be Reading
What readers are saying
"The best book I've read in months"
— Anne M. Hunter
"Beautifully written historical fiction. . . The book is perfectly paced and well balanced . . . a mesmerizing read."
— J. Prather
"This book is a 'Must Read'! Beautifully written"
— Jane H., Indianola, IA
"Great historical fiction makes you forget that you know the ending, so that you may learn it anew. Lois Leveen has a beautiful way with words, a call a friend and read aloud voice."
— Barbie R, Jamestown, PA
"This an exceptional book . . .written with such clarity and love. I am going to recommend this book to the History teacher at the school where I work."
— Janice C., Hayward, CA
"I loved this book and that's a pretty rare thing for me. I tend to be rather finicky about my fiction and most of what I do read doesn't thrill me. This did. The author's research on the period and her skill as a writer come shining through in this well told and emotional story."
Interviews with Lois are posted on the Bio section of this website.
— Barb, Trumansburg, NY
"[Lois Leveen] has a unique ability to seamlessly weave what must have been a massive amount of research into a well-plotted story . . . I haven't gotten this lost in a book since I was twelve years old!"
— Susan Weissman, Mount Laurel, NJ
"The detail in the telling makes it quite mesmerizing. . . A highly accomplished debut novel."
— Annie Williams, West Yorkshire, UK