LitChat book reviews

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Neverhome, by Laird Hunt

Sep 25, 2014


Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Neverhome is the story of a young farmer’s wife, Constance, who recreates herself as a male Union soldier and travels from Indiana to Ohio to “defend the Republic.” She gives her name as Ash Thompson from Darke County, gets her uniform, and marches with her new regiment south to war.

Laird Hunt’s lyrical novel is written in the voice of Constance/Ash, and it is her gritty, distinctive voice that drives the story as she quickly earns the nickname Gallant Ash, kills her first man, and lingers with his dead body long enough to note that his eyes are blue.

We walk with Ash as she marches and battles and reads her husband Bartholomew’s letters. She sews his likeness into her breast pocket so he is with her always.

Ash wins favor with her Colonel and eventually lets on to him that she is not from Darke County, Ohio but from Indiana and she hopes that doesn’t matter. He tells her as long as she is loyal of heart it will be fine.

In perfectly drawn scenes and vivid detail, the reader is there as Ash endures capture by the rebel grays, makes a clever and violent escape, and goes on into the “swirl of war,” where she is injured, healed, accused and taken into custody as a spy. She spends time in a madhouse and eventually makes her way back for the final battle.

 “You think you are never going to get back and then you are there and you wonder if you were ever gone.”

As happens to most soldiers who endure heavy combat, Ash Thompson brings home wounds that stay with her, wounds that take time to heal.

This is a beautifully rendered tale of love and of war, of a woman bound by her own early loss to later loss, and of courage and persistence, an odyssey.

Make room on the shelf beside The Odyssey, Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. Laird Hunt’s Neverhome is a victory among novels of any kind, but it shines brightest as a novel of war.



1 comment:

billie said...

I’m in the process of moving these book reviews here to this page. Stay tuned.