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.
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.
I was strong and he was not, so it was me went to war to defend the Republic. I stepped across the border out of Indiana into Ohio. Twenty dollars, two salt-pork sandwiches, and I took jerky, biscuits, six old apples, fresh underthings, and a blanket too. There was a heat in the air so I walked in my shirtsleeves with my hat pulled low. I wasn't the only one looking to enlist and by and by we had ourselves a band. Farm folk cheered as we went by. Gave us food. Their best shade to stop in. Played to us on their fiddles. Everything you've heard about from the early days, even though it had already been a year since Fort Sumter, and there had already been the First Bull Run, and Shiloh had stole off its souls, and the early days were done and dead and gone.
The tenth or eleventh night on the road we drank whiskey and hollered under the stars. There was a running race. Knife throwing. Cracker-swallowing contest. Feats of strength. One of the boys tried to arm wrestle me ...
Neverhome will likely find a wide audience among those who read historical fiction, and its accuracy is sure to please history purists and aficionados of Civil War fiction. In Constance, Hunt has created an inimitable and unforgettable heroine who will have broad appeal, and her story will likely touch many.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (576 words).
Historians have documented some 400 cases of women serving as men in the American Civil War (see our review and Beyond the Book for Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy).
Motives for their enlistment varied widely, although it would seem that most enlisted to stay with family; many were concerned that their husband, father, brother or son would die in the conflict and remain unknown or unburied. Some chose to adopt an assumed identity out of patriotism or on moral grounds, as slavery was often deemed offensive to God or, on the other side of the conflict, to be God's intention. One young woman from Brooklyn named Emily believed she was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc and so joined up in the heat of religious fervor. Economics was also a ...
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