Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Wilderness is the debut novel of Lance Weller.  I look forward to more novels from this author! I am a
little biased in that I love novels concerning the Civil War and this is a little more than just about the War in that it is also dealing with the aftermath of the War.

The novel begins with a Prologue titled "Rise Again 1965".  A woman, Jane, woke in her nursing home, remembering her three fathers:

"The man who was her father for five years and who was killed along with her mother high in the mountains.  And Jane Dao-ming sees again her second father, Abel Truman, who found her there and who brought her down and whom she knew for two days and who gave her vision to replace sight.  By the window in her studio, her breath comes hot and catches high in her chest to think of him and of her third and final father, who raised her with her second and final mother.  This third father, Glenn Makers, who adopted her and taught her what she's need to know to survive in a sighted world-arithmetic and how an apple feels when ripe and sweet and how the quality of light differs by season and by temperature-and who was hanged by the neck until dead from the branches of a black cottonwood on the banks of the Little Sugar Creek by a man named Farley for the simple reason that he was a black man with a white wife."
 She recalls asking Glenn, her third father, about Abel Truman.  Glenn told her:

"Skin started it," he finally told her.  "That war.  You know that.  Skin started it, but there was more to it than just skin, and even though Abel fought for what he fought for, you can't take a man out of his time then expect to understand him.  That's just not something you can do.  Like the war, there was more to him than just the side he was on."
Great Prologue! 

The novel is the story of Abel Truman, who had fought for the Confederacy, and headed to the Pacific after the War, trying to get away from all the memories and feelings. The story goes back and forth between 1864 and 1899.  In 1864 Abel had fought at the Battle of the Wilderness, where he was severely wounded.  In 1899, Abel was nearing the end of his life.  Before the War had started Abel had lost his infant daughter and his wife.  Those losses, along with his experiences during the War, haunted him for the rest of his life. Redemption figures in both times...from 1864 Abel comes to the realization that fighting a war over color of skin is wrong, and from 1899 Abel told a story of being human and surviving, along with caring for others.

The novel tells of an old soldier's heading "home", retelling his story and memories, good and bad.   I thought the writing was superb.  Great story!

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