neverhome laird hunt

Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome by Laird HuntNeverhome by Laird Hunt
Published by Little, Brown on 9/9/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 256
Buy from IndieBound

 

“I was strong and he was not, so it was me went to war to defend the Republic.” In less than twenty words, Laird Hunt opens Neverhome with a perfect image of his protagonist’s undeniable strength. With little more than a nod, Constance leaves behind her farm, name and husband to become Union soldier, Ash. Though the book is sprinkled with pensive moments spent reflecting the past with her mild-mannered husband Bartholomew, Ash is light years away from the dutiful wife or picture of femininity we so commonly associate with the time period.

But she isn’t alone in her strength. All of Neverhome‘s female characters, including the looming presence of Ash’s mother, offer surprises in their willingness to turn their back to convention. Hunt populates his novel with women who repeatedly break the mold of society’s expectations, allowing their choices to run along the controversial decisions made by men rather than holding them to an angelic standard. Through this, we’re given complex female characters instead of the one dimensional belles that so often fill stories from the Civil War era.

“I wanted to take up the dead man’s head and cradle it but I did not do that and knew that that kind of a thought was another thing I was going to have to learn to kill.”

Enhancing the complexity of the story is the narrative used to tell it. From the first blunt sentence to the novel’s brilliant closing words, Ash’s voice is an absolute force. Not quite dialect, rather the language of someone more accustomed to working than reading and writing, it can be difficult to follow. But it soon becomes clear how carefully placed each word is; every one meant to tumble over the next in a successful effort to make Ash sound genuine rather than stereotypical and mocking.

It’s that voice that has gripped me since I turned the last page, asking questions and finding ways to remind me just how much this book has to offer in its slim volume.

 

  • Your description of Ash’s voice is totally selling me on this novel. Wow!

  • Yes! I loved it. Read it, people–you won’t be sorry!

    I really want to read some of his backlist now.

  • This seems to be the season of “women fighting in the Civil War” books! Add this one to the list…

  • I didn’t really care for this novel while I was reading it, but I can’t put my finger on why. However, it’s somehow grown on me since I finished reading it — the voice and the writing have stuck with me in ways I didn’t expect.

    • I can totally understand that, since it’s been sticking with me in the same way. The voice is not really easy to read, it’s kind of grating…I wonder if that could be why it wasn’t enjoyable? It’s one of those voices that you really remember, though, and feels so fitting when it’s done.

  • I don’t normally read books from this era, but for some reason this one is calling my name. I’ve heard so many great things about Neverhome that it may just be the one Civil War book I read this year.

    • It’s much more of a personal story than one about war, I think, especially once you get to the end. I was really surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.

  • Wow, this sounds so good. More books should have really complex characters. The writing style in this one sounds a bit like the story hour, where the writing style can be hard to read but makes the story feel very authentic

  • Pingback: Recapping SIBA 2014()