The Courier's Wife - Civil War Historical Fiction
The Courier's Wife #1 by Vanessa Lind
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publish date: April 2022; 213 pages
First Sentence: " Not yet nine in the morning, and the September day already promised sweltering heat. "
This story takes place during the Civil War in Washington DC. Lucy and Hattie are a couple of privileged (wealthy) young white women who want to help the Union war effort and are working in a mail room for the Pinkerton spy agency opening and reading mail in an effort to find any intel that might help the war effort. An opportunity arises to leave the mail room and do some actual spy work and Lucy secures that job, leaving Hattie envious.
The other main character is Thom, a spy for Pinkerton who serves as a courier for correspondence between a few major cities and he's one of the couriers that deliver mail to the mail room for inspection. Lucy works with him, posing as his sister for a while. Events occur and Thom's cover is getting shaky so it's decided he needs a wife. Hattie is selected to be that partner. As they work together, attraction becomes more, but there's a betrayal, there are consequences, and then. The book ends.
I enjoyed the Civil War era setting as something other than WWII. The town of Washington, the women meeting President Lincoln by happenstance, the other historical name dropping really helped set the place. Hattie is a strong, determined female protagonist, out to do her part against the enemy and a belief system (slavery) she doesn't agree with. She's strong, but I liked that she had her fears and just worked on controlling them - like we all do.
In the Author's Notes, I discovered The Courier's Wife is loosely based on a couple of real women and a male courier, which is very interesting. However, there wasn't really anything particularly new in the plotline, the characters were okay, and the dialog felt true to the era. Yet, for some reason, I wasn't ever truly engaged. It felt a bit flat throughout the storytelling. And the ending was such an abrupt cliffhanger, clearly leading to the next book, that I felt a bit cheated - not one thing was resolved. It's kind of like a TV series episode where something dramatic happens in the last minute of the show but you know it will resolve next week. This one leaves you hanging for the next book.
Though it's not particularly complex or full of deep themes, it is entertaining and well written and good for a quick weekend read.