Neverhome by, Laird Hunt
Synopsis from Goodreads:
An extraordinary novel about a wife who disguises herself as a man and goes off to fight in the Civil War.
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.
A fascinating, sad story. I read this book in a day I couldn't stop reading I had to find out what happens next.
It's written like an oral history you truly hear her voice in every phrase and story. At times she is an unreliable narrator but sometimes you need to lie to yourself to get through the day.
This is historical fiction and Ash/Constance is a compilation of many women who dressed as men during the Civil War to go fight the war. All had different reasons and Ash’s reason was because her husband was weak, he was the soft one in the family and she was wire so she decided that she was the one who is going to go off to war. As she said I was strong he was not , so it was me went to war to defend the Republic.
Parts of this book are very gory because this is a no holds barred war story and you have to remember what medicine was like in those days. Plus there is no Geneva Convention so prisoners of war were treated so awfully that it’s hard for us to understand because there are rules about prisoner treatment now. The hardest part of this book to read is when she is held prisoner, those scenes are horrific but it is what happened during the civil war.
I loved the metaphor of the shave how it made you feel human again and you could forget the things you’ve seen for a few minutes.
Constance/Ash kept up an inner monologue with her mother who had been gone a long time but I think these conversations with her mother helped keep her sane. But it also teaches us about Constance and why and how she became Ash the reasons go so much deeper than just her husband is the soft one.
I think more men than she knew were on to her but since she was such a good soldier none of them said a word, like the Colonel I think he knew for awhile. And in her journey home she learned so much about herself and the Colonel. Speaking of her journey home, when she reached home things weren’t as she hoped there either and this ending was so heartbreaking.
But as I said earlier yes this book is heartbreaking but it is also beautiful and lyrical and I feel it is a must read.
4 ½ Stars