Reviewed by Billie Hinton
Neverhome is the story of a young farmer’s wife, Constance, who recreates herself as a male Union soldier and travels from Indiana to Ohio to “defend the Republic.” She gives her name as Ash Thompson from Darke County, gets her uniform, and marches with her new regiment south to war.
Laird Hunt’s lyrical novel is written in the voice of Constance/Ash, and it is her gritty, distinctive voice that drives the story as she quickly earns the nickname Gallant Ash, kills her first man, and lingers with his dead body long enough to note that his eyes are blue.
We walk with Ash as she marches and battles and reads her husband Bartholomew’s letters. She sews his likeness into her breast pocket so he is with her always.
Ash wins favor with her Colonel and eventually lets on to him that she is not from Darke County, Ohio but from Indiana and she hopes that doesn’t matter. He tells her as long as she is loyal of heart it will be fine.
In perfectly drawn scenes and vivid detail, the reader is there as Ash endures capture by the rebel grays, makes a clever and violent escape, and goes on into the “swirl of war,” where she is injured, healed, accused and taken into custody as a spy. She spends time in a madhouse and eventually makes her way back for the final battle.
“You think you are never going to get back and then you are there and you wonder if you were ever gone.”
As happens to most soldiers who endure heavy combat, Ash Thompson brings home wounds that stay with her, wounds that take time to heal.
This is a beautifully rendered tale of love and of war, of a woman bound by her own early loss to later loss, and of courage and persistence, an odyssey.
Make room on the shelf beside The Odyssey, Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. Laird Hunt’s Neverhome is a victory among novels of any kind, but it shines brightest as a novel of war.
BILLIE HINTON is an author and psychotherapist who lives with two horses, a painted pony, two miniature donkeys, a curiosity of cats, and two opinionated Corgis. She publishes literary suspense novels for adults, middle grade novels for pony lovers of any age, nonfiction books on writing, living with horses, and psychotherapy, and co-authors children’s picture books. Visit her at and sign on for online Postcards From November Hill .