Laird Hunt is the author of six novels and a writer I've been meaning to get to for a number of years. Neverhome, his latest work, is the story of Ash/Constance Thompson, who has decided to join the Union in it's fight against the South in place of her husband, because she "was strong, and he was not."
As the reader, we don't know quite why Ash has decided to risk her life as a soldier. She often talks to her deceased mother, and she states in one conversation that she wants to, "Plant my boot and steel my eye and not run." As she struggles on with her war weary comrades, she becomes the subject of a fable, passed among troops, wherein she is known as Gallant Ash.
At times Neverhome itself feels like a fable, and reality and myth seem to become one. This is one of those rare books that had me hunting for free moments in order to read a few pages. Ash's voice is engaging, and the story is a compelling adventure. (Hunt was inspired by actual letters from women, who had fought as men in the Civil War.)Neverhome by Laird Hunt
Now I need to dig through the Laird Hunt backlist and see what I've been missing.
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.