Excerpt from Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Hillary Jordan

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 336 pages
    Mar 2009, 336 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Then I felt the first drops of rain hit my face. “Henry!” I yelled.

The rain was falling lightly now, but before long it would be a downpour. The water would start filling up the hole. I’d feel it creeping up my legs to my thighs. To my chest. To my neck. “Henry! Laura!”

I threw myself at the walls of the grave like a maddened bear in a pit. Part of me was outside myself, shaking my head at my own foolishness, but the man was powerless to help the bear. It wasn’t the confinement; I’d spent hundreds of hours in cockpits with no problem at all. It was the water. During the war I’d avoided flying over the open ocean whenever I could, even if it meant facing flak from the ground. It was how I won all those medals for bravery: from being so scared of that vast, hungry blue that I drove straight into the thick of German antiaircraft fire.

I was yelling so hard I didn’t hear Henry until he was standing right over me. “I’m here, Jamie! I’m here!” he shouted. He lowered the ladder into the hole and I scrambled up it. He tried to take hold of my arm, but I waved him off. I bent over, my hands on my knees, trying to slow the tripping of my heart.

“You all right?” he asked.

I didn’t look at him, but I didn’t have to. I knew his forehead would be puckered and his mouth pursed?—?his “my brother, the lunatic” look.

“I thought maybe you’d decided to leave me down there,” I said, with a forced laugh.

“Why would I do that?”

“I’m just kidding, Henry.” I went and took up the ladder, tucking it under one arm. “Come on, let’s get this over with.” We hurried across the fields, stopping at the pump to wash the mud off our hands and faces, then headed to the barn to get the coffin. It was a sorry-looking thing, made of mismatched scrap wood, but it was the best we’d been able to do with the materials we had. Henry frowned as he picked up one end. “I wish to hell we’d been able to get to town,” he said.

“Me too,” I said, thinking of the whiskey.

We carried the coffin up onto the porch. When we went past the open window Laura called out, “You’ll want hot coffee and a change of clothes before we bury him.”

“No,” said Henry. “There’s no time. Storm’s coming.”

We took the coffin into the lean-to and set it on the rough plank floor. Henry lifted the sheet to look at our father’s face one last time. Pappy’s expression was tranquil. There was nothing to show that his death was anything other than the natural, timely passing of an old man.

I lifted the feet and Henry took the head. “Gently now,” he said.

“Right,” I said, “we wouldn’t want to hurt him.”

“That’s not the point,” Henry snapped.

“Sorry, brother. I’m just tired.”

With ludicrous care, we lowered the corpse into the coffin. Henry reached for the lid. “I’ll finish up here,” he said. “You go make sure Laura and the girls are ready.”

“All right.”

As I walked into the house I heard the hammer strike the first nail, a sweet and final sound. It made the children jump. “What’s that banging, Mama?” asked Amanda Leigh.

“That’s your daddy, nailing Pappy’s coffin shut,” Laura said.

“Will it make him mad?” Bella’s voice was a scared whisper.

Laura shot me a quick, fierce glance. “No, darling,” she said. “Pappy’s dead. He can’t get mad at anyone ever again. Now, let’s get you into your coats and boots. It’s time to lay your grandfather to rest.”

I was glad Henry wasn’t there to hear the satisfaction in her voice.

Excerpted from Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Copyright © 2008 by Hillary Jordan. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.