Skip to main content

Neverhome by Laird Hunt: Lady Soldiers and All the Stoicism You Could Want



Little, Brown sent me Neverhome on a whim, probably because it's about a lady dressing up as a Union soldier and going off to fight. Yeah, that sounds like it's in my wheelhouse. I honestly didn't have high expectations for it, because I've never been THAT into the women-disguising-themselves-as-men thing, but when I started it I basically couldn't put it down.

Think The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, but set during the Civil War. Those types of narrators are my favorite. Calm, unruffled, just there to tell you their deal and be done with it.


So like the opposite of this

"Gallant Ash," as she becomes known, fights in battle after battle and makes the Civil War much more real than it's usually portrayed, as here it's seen from the point of view of a soldier instead of one of the now near-mythic generals and their overarching plans for the war. It's not "[Massive number of people] died at Bull Run," it's someone who's in the middle and it's chaotic and people are dying and you no longer know where you are but you know you can't run because that's desertion.

The prose is simple but with the sort of detail that makes it seem real.

I gave my name as Ash Thompson down out of Darke County. “Where in Darke County?” they asked me, and I told them, even though I could see straight off they weren’t listening, that where was in the northwest corner of that fine county on my Daddy’s farm. After they had cracked on my teeth and whistled at my thick fingers and had me scrape my thumb calluses across the wood tabletop, they gave me my blues. A week later, when they saw I didn’t mind work and hadn’t run off, they handed me my firearm. It was a Model 1861 muzzle-loading Springfield rifle with flip-up sights and percussion lock, and they said you could use it to kill a man a quarter mile away.

 I'd definitely have some questions for Mr Hunt about the ending (WON'T TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENS IT'S A SURPRISE), but I was genuinely delighted by the overall prose style and setting. Brief encounters Ash has throughout the book give a more complete view of the war and the way it impacted a variety of people than one would think possible in so few pages. And again, it's done simply, which I love. Give me five minutes of two people talking on the side of a road; I don't need them to go on a cross-country adventure of 700 pages so the lesson from their relationship can be taught (*cough* kind of looking at you, Donna Tartt, no matter how overall magnificent your novel might be). 

+10 points for being set in the 19th century and +5 for a lady protagonist.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop ( Odyssey Books , where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have. I feel like we could get to this point, Emily INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'. You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters. If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing: We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilar

Book Blogger Hop, Pt II

All right. The question for this week is:  "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?" Oh-ho my. I have an issue with book commitment. I start a new book, and it's exciting and fresh, and I get really jazzed about it, and then 20% of the way through, almost without fail, I start getting bored and want to start another book. I once had seven books going at the same time, because I kept getting bored and starting new ones. It's a sickness. Right now I'm being pretty good and working on The Monk , Northanger Abbey , Kissing the Witch , and I'm about to start Waiting for the Barbarians since my friend lent it to me. But The Monk and NA are basically books I only read when I'm at work, so I don't see it so much as working on four books, as having books in different locales. Yes. This entry wasn't as good as some of the others, but I shall rally on the morrow. Yes I shall.