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The Spy in Crinoline: Antonia Ford's Civil War Paperback – November 3, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Heritage Books (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788436422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788436420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,409,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The essayist, Will Durant once wrote about civilization being a stream with banks. (To paraphrase, while the men fight the bloody battles in the stream, people on the banks go on with life, making love, raising kids, and doing the simple, mundane things generations of people have always done to survive and enjoy life.) In the late 1800s, the Ford family of Fairfax, VA did just that. Despite the horror of war going on around them (with both union and confederate troops often imposing themselves upon the family), there was always time for quilting, singing, dancing and normal small-town gossip. Author Karla Vernon was able to flesh out the legend of Civil War spy, Antonia Ford, and bring the woman to life. Ford wasn't just a "Gone with the Wind" southern belle, but a woman with intelligence, desire, and guts. Well educated, and with obvious family money, Antonia is a portrayed as a real person: inquisitive, brave, sexual; yet sometimes whiney and bratty). She doesn't hesitate to ride hours in the rain to warn troops, but then is mortified when her name appears in the newspaper about it. In short, she has a personality. The story doesn't read like a dry history book--yet it encourages you to dig out the history book and research more about the people of the time. The facts are woven into a compelling love story. There were other historical individuals whose personalities showed through as well (including flirty JEB Stuart, sneaky John Mosby and a dashing Joseph C. Willard--a man with a past!). I liked Vernon's writing style and her attention to detail. She appears to have done her research and add a human element to the story! I'd recommend it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like historical fiction that speaks to the history. This is more a love story than history. Not particularly well written and parts are even boring. I'm sure it was well researched but it doesn't show it. Too bad.
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Format: Paperback
"The Spy in Crinoline" is a delightful historic novel based on the real life of a fascinating family and an amazing young woman. Antonia Ford - on the surface a proper southern lady - defied convention to pursue her passions, first to risk her own safety to deliver critical information to Confederate officers, and again to follow her heart even though it means crossing enemy lines. This is a history book that will delight romantics and a romance novel that will engage historians.

The Fords are a family in the middle of it all, with visitors that include luminaries such as J.E.B. Stuart and Walt Whitman, and friends such as John Mosby and John Esten Cooke. Karla Vernon's painstaking research is apparent, as names, dates, events and even troop movements are documented in a way that enhances rather than detracts from the central story. She quotes liberally from letters to and from Antonia, as well as newspaper articles of the day, giving her story both intimacy and interesting historic perspective.

While the author has obviously taken literary license with the words, thoughts and feelings of her protagonist and other central characters, the story remains true to history. Civil War buffs will enjoy a new perspective on some familiar proceedings, and Fairfax County readers especially will love the descriptions of local places and events.

Antonia is a passionate young woman who waits a long time for the man who awakens her "longing for the forbidden." Girlish speculation with her friends about what sex will be like, some clumsy fumbling with suitors, and one tender love scene make the book slightly too racy for middle schoolers, but I would highly recommend this book for teen girls who think history is "boring." Antonia Ford will change their minds!
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