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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.
go now, Gallant Ash,” he said. He looked at me and raised his eyebrow and when he had let his eyebrow down I went. I am worn down to the bone,” I wrote my husband the evening after this exchange. “Come home to me when you are ready,” he wrote me back. “We can try again.” “I am not ready, not yet,” I wrote. “I’ll keep on waiting, I will,” he wrote. Then the Colonel gave orders and we marched across a strip of pretty water, over a low green mountain, and into the start of my hell. TWO The
scratched deep gouges in my face. I could not move my left arm at all. It had swollen up against my coat sleeve. I felt for Bartholomew’s likeness under my wrappings and knew at once I had lost it and when I got up on my knees, my stomach, which had nothing much more in it than mud and creek water, emptied out. It took me a time, kneeling there, to be able to open up my eyes and lift my head. When I did I could see a straggled line of our wounded coming down a lane. After my rich visions of the
He had rolled an old whiskey barrel all the way out from town and had set that barrel in the yard and had hollered for me to come out of my house and he hopped up on that barrel and danced like a dervish in a mulberry bush or a monkey had a toothache or a rhinoceros had a headache or some such and then he hopped back down and when he saw I’d started up breathing again he said what I’ve already told, then said he wanted to marry me. “Why?” I said. “It’s love pure and simple,” he said. The day
An hour later I crashed through a small wood had set a squadron of deerflies after me and came across a place where the earth swelled up like a giant’s dinner bell. There was a tree or two on the flanks of this swollen place but the ground underfoot was spongy and mostly it was just high grass and scrub. I walked up this swelling and paused on its top. I had heard about mounds like these, heard there were whole dead cities buried in each one of them, that no one now alive could say for sure how
Will that bring him home sooner or later? I do not know.” She said not another word. Our smoke walked out together into the night. After a time I took my pipe up to bed with me. The tobacco was stale but still filled the room with the smell of whiskey and cherry and the fields on which I had fought. During his speech, Weatherby said his ruined grandson had been at Antietam and I thought about this as I laid my head against the pillows and smoked. Maybe we had both been in the cornfield. Charged