Hunt keeps the pace brisk and inserts some new feminist twists into the genre of the Civil War odyssey.

NEVERHOME

A novel that takes us there and back again, “there” being the Civil War and back again, a farm in Indiana.

Constance “Ash” Thompson and her husband, Bartholomew, are a young couple with a farm, though their roles are a bit inverted, for Ash is fearless and a crack shot while Bartholomew has bad vision and is much more timid. Ash feels strongly about supporting the Union cause, but one of them has to stay home and tend the crops and animals, so Ash enlists and passes for a male soldier. She narrates her adventures crisply and matter-of-factly as she goes through her slapdash basic training and soon finds herself at the Battle of Antietam. She becomes expert in carrying off her role as a man, spitting and cursing with the boys but also showing herself invaluable as a marksman (even when this only involves foraging for squirrels to make a stew). Eventually, Ash is betrayed by someone she thought she could trust, and she finds the battle is not the most difficult challenge she faces, for rumor has it that a “whore from Chattanooga” has been dressing up as a man and infiltrating Union lines. When she persuades an officer that she’s neither a whore nor a spy, she’s incarcerated in an asylum, for it’s concluded that lunacy is the only other possible cause for her cross-dressing. After suffering abundant humiliations at the hands of a female “keeper,” Ash cleverly (and ironically) escapes by switching clothes with a Union guard. By this time, she’s determined to get home to Bartholomew—and she does—only to find that some local thugs have taken over the farm. Of course, she vows vengeance, though this revenge is exacted in a way that leads to tragedy. While comparisons to Cold Mountain are inevitable, Ash’s journey has its own integrity. 

Hunt keeps the pace brisk and inserts some new feminist twists into the genre of the Civil War odyssey.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-97013-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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