Meet Gallant Ash: A chivalrous Civil War soldier. A leader of men and fearless in battle. His secret? Gallant Ash is a woman who left her husband at home tending the farm so she could fight for the Union.
First Impressions: Strong narrative voice. Gallant had a highly unique voice with no break in register or tone. I think it is hard for a man to write a female narrator (and vice versa) so Hunt has done very well but I suspect Gallant being of a tomboy may have made it every so slightly easier!
Highlights: I loved the snippets of Gallant’s childhood and home life on the farm. Her relationship with her husband is slowly revealed and explains why she has gone off to fight. The novel was far from being a voyeuristic survey of injured soldiers but some of the stories told were quite affecting. When Gallant meets a veteran from the War of 1812 it really shows how nothing changes in war, particularly to this day. The novel was never laugh out loud funny (that is not Gallant’s way) but her interactions with the soldiers from Akron were amusing.
If I was an editor: I would initially wonder if we needed another Odyssey-type Civil War novel (aren’t most Civil War novels more about the physical journey?) but Neverhome is unique in what it achieves and offers a fresh approach. I usually love a sub-300 page novel but I did wish this was just a little longer…
Overall: Timeless musings on war.
Neverhome: 5 stars
(Purely for interest: Behind the scenes at the Neverhome cover shoot:click here)
Thank you to Random House (Vintage) for a copy of the title to review.