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.
Going to tell her story,” he said. “Everyone wants to gets to sit and tell their story.” “What’d he say?” said one of the Akron boys. “Why are they telling their stories?” I asked. “I told mine earlier,” the grandpa said. “I told about my mother’s pickled eggs. And her grasshopper soup. Back in Maryland. We had a famine. Come after the crops didn’t make it. When I was young.” “Why?” “Shhh,” said a woman next to us. She was holding a baby didn’t appear long for this dusky world. It looked.
Charges. Maybe I don’t give a good goddamn. But I imagine you can see that I can’t offer you a special position or a commendation with such propositions swirling, can I?” “No, sir.” “I could not hold you to the light of general recognition and visibility under such circumstances. I couldn’t put all eyes in this camp on you. You might find you couldn’t move free any longer, that you had found your way into your own barrel, and then what would you do? Do you, Private, disagree?” I shook my head.
Signal to him, but all that came into my mind were latrines and ugly bare backs set to labor and burned coffee and mealworms popping their heads out of our hard biscuits. One day on a march I did see a blue heron spear a fish bigger than its beak out of a still puddle but when I wrote it down, the heron and the fish and the puddle came out so pale I almost struck them out. Bartholomew’s letters to me were of another order altogether. He had a way of writing five words could bring all of the old.
Jolly shaves in the yard for the men prisoners in that place, though. Coming and going from the yard you went by a chair set in a cell didn’t have any door. Sometimes there was a man strapped into that chair and sometimes there wasn’t. I walked by it once and a man was attached to it. You couldn’t see what he looked like because they pulled a kind of hat down over the eyes of the ones they had sit there. The hat looked like it was a slop bucket had a brim. He didn’t have any shirt on and you.
Queen with Mother Hen. I don’t know if she did this to investigate my state of interest or awakeness or because she thought the old tales had gotten played out and she wanted to freshen them up. Sometimes she would put three or four together. Tie them into a bundle and let loose the whole shooting match. Bartholomew claimed to me once he had heard her at this game but I don’t know how he could have since she was dead of her own hand no time at all after he gave me that dark red zinnia I took in.