Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome is a quick and engrossing read set in the American Civil War about a woman who goes to fight in place of her husband. Written in precisely chosen, but simple and colloquial language, Constance’s account is remarkably open and painfully honest; such clear, concise and characterful writing is an unusual treat. There is no sense of an unreliable narrator. This story is raw and well balanced, perhaps almost too well balanced.

I could write a lot more about how the story develops but I would spoil it. I will mention one of my favourite images though and that is of a greenhouse made of portrait glass. Each pane of glass has the image of a soldier or sweetheart printed upon it, slowing fading in the bright sunlight, casting ghostly shadows upon the people and plants within.

I’m not sure I would rank this as a book that will stand among my favourites of all time, but Neverhome is a real story lover’s story, a tale that one could imagine being told by a fireside, pipe and brandy in hand, an intimate account of the ravages of war, the strength of women and the endurable nature of the human race. It would be hard to read this book and not enjoy it.

Next week I’m reading White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen.