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Neverhome
by Laird Hunt


Overview - NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE
Inaugural winner of the Grand Prix de la Litterature Americaine
She calls herself Ash, but that's not her real name. She is a farmer's faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War.
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More About Neverhome by Laird Hunt
 
 
 
Overview
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE
Inaugural winner of the Grand Prix de la Litterature Americaine
She calls herself Ash, but that's not her real name. She is a farmer's faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. NEVERHOME tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.
Laird Hunt's dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?
In gorgeous prose, Hunt's rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780316370134
  • ISBN-10: 0316370134
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co
  • Publish Date: September 2014
  • Page Count: 246
  • Dimensions: 1 x 5.75 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-07-28
  • Reviewer: Staff

Following Kind One, Hunt returns to the 19th century to transform a footnote in history—the women who fought disguised as men in the Civil War—into a haunting meditation on the complexity of human character, the power of secrets, and the contradictions of the American experience. Saying that “he was made out of wool and I was made out of wire,” Constance Thompson leaves her husband Bartholomew to work their Indiana farm and enlists in the Union Army as Ash Thompson. Her strength, fortitude, and marksmanship serve her disguise well, and soldiering seems to offer some of the change she has craved. But the carnage inevitably takes its toll. Captured by bounty hunters, Constance must use both cunning and violence to escape. After an injury separates her from her unit, the nurse with whom she’s sheltered betrays her to the military authorities, and she is put in a madhouse. Though she finds her way back home, the war’s brutality has changed both her and the farm so much that familiar grounds offers no peace, only pain. Hunt’s characterization of Constance transcends simplistic distinctions between male and female, good and bad. The language of her narration is triumphant as well: sometimes blunt, sometimes visionary, and always fascinating. (Sept.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Infiltrating the battlefield

It’s estimated that around 500 women passed themselves off as men so they could fight in the Civil War. In the haunting Neverhome, Laird Hunt deftly imagines one such situation and its heartbreaking repercussions.

She calls herself Ash Thompson, a farmer who enlists to fight for the Union. Ash quickly earns a reputation as a brave and stoic soldier, even in the direst of battles. But Ash is actually Constance, an Indiana farmer’s wife who left her husband behind to fight. Her reasons become clearer as this beautifully paced novel unfolds, and Ash goes from a war hero to a broken woman looking for a way home.

After Ash is revealed as a woman and accused of spying for the South, she is jailed in deplorable conditions, nearly going mad while awaiting a chance to escape. On her trek back to her farm, many of those she encounters help her in their own ways: a trio of orphaned sisters; the wife of the General who commanded Ash. Others stick to their own path, fighting their demons as they make their way home from war. “Here and there you would cross a discharged veteran still had bombs and bullets flying in his eyes,” she said.

Hunt is at the top of his game with Neverhome, a mesmerizing book whose quiet surface belies its rich depths, up until its heartbreaking conclusion. His impeccable ear for authentic Civil War-era dialect—and his vivid battle scenes—breathe life into a novel that explores what happens when the call of duty collides with the lure of home.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews