Nostalgia: A Novel

Nostalgia: A Novel

4.4 7
by Dennis McFarland, Sean Runnette
     
 

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In the winter of 1864, young Summerfield Hayes enlists in the Union army, leaving his sister devastated and alone. The siblings, recently bereft of their parents, are unusually attached, and Summerfield fears his untoward feelings for his sister. This rich backstory is intercut with scenes of Hayes' soul-altering hours on the march, at the front, and in the

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Overview

In the winter of 1864, young Summerfield Hayes enlists in the Union army, leaving his sister devastated and alone. The siblings, recently bereft of their parents, are unusually attached, and Summerfield fears his untoward feelings for his sister. This rich backstory is intercut with scenes of Hayes' soul-altering hours on the march, at the front, and in the Washington military hospital where he eventually finds himself, mute and unable even to write his name. In this twilit realm, among the people he encounters is a gray-bearded eccentric who visits the ward daily and becomes his strongest advocate: Walt Whitman.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Battle of the Wilderness (May 5–7, 1864) is remembered as one of the most infamous and critical battles of the Civil War. Summerfield Hayes, an earnest and well-intentioned young man, impulsively enlists in the Union Army and finds himself in brutal hand-to-hand combat, hoping to lose himself in the experience and escape the inappropriate feelings he has developed for his older sister. He achieves his first desire after receiving a savage blow to the head—he loses his voice, his sense of self, and his ability to distinguish among memory, reality, and dream. Author McFarland has written eloquently about loss and grief in a number of acclaimed novels (The Music Room; Singing Boy) and he returns to these themes again in this powerful, moving new book. By capturing the kaleidoscopic, hallucinogenic nature of warfare persuasively, he skillfully brings his psychologically shattered protagonist through the difficult journey and returns him to health and sanity—kindness and compassion are what saves him. The characters here are especially well drawn, including a genial and wise old hospital volunteer named Walt Whitman. VERDICT Masterful writing recommended for Civil War buffs and fans of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/13.]— Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781482928570
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

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Nostalgia 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was about pgs. long total. A lot of that era prose style writing made it charming regardless of the horrific time of war, wounds, loss of young limb and life as they had no antibiotics then. I was surprised I did like it as there was no dialouge at all till 30th page. The ending is what stopped the book from being better. Not sure how it could have ended but it kind of dropped off badly there. All in all an ok read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i couldnt put it down
HuskerTJ More than 1 year ago
I received Nostalgia in a Goodreads first-reads giveaway. It started out slow in the beginning. Once I got into the meat of the story I couldn't put it down. I fell in love with Summerfield Hayes! I love books that have great character development and vivid descriptions. This book painted a picture that completely enveloped me and had me in the moment. I would definitely recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
Dennis McFarland's new novel Nostalgia, is the product of an outstandingly empathetic mind. This is a writer who truly knows us, especially the unanswered questions that manipulate our lives. As a work of historical fiction, this stands in a very select company. It succeeds as a brilliant re-telling of the typical Union conscript's soul-numbing experiences during one of the most destructive, protracted battles of the Civil War. It stands as a compelling study of the oddly dis-connected times when the lives of citizens in cities only slightly removed from the carnage, could continue as if the war was on the other side of the world. It stands as one of the most effectively brutal re-creations of Civil War Hospital convalescence I have yet read, and it stands as the most touching recreation of Walt Whitman's ministrations to the injured soldiers I may ever read. In addition, the author's use of nineteenth century baseball as a conduit into our modern age is brilliant and absorbing. Nostalgia, in the title, so effectively dissected according to it's etymology in the opening pages, actually refers equally to the diagnosis of the time for what is now, finally understood as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The author's meticulous journey into the mind of Private Hayes brings this disorder into clear focus. We are left wondering why our society continues to make the same large-scale mistakes again and again, despite experience telling us there is another way. The surprising yet completely believable fate of a young Brooklyn ballplayer, gone to war, sets a very high standard for fiction yet to be written about the period. In the Afterward, the author muses about the ways a character can control the telling of his story. In this case, I believe that Walt Whitman himself must have stood just a step behind McFarland during the writing, whispering into his ear, from time to time, to make sure he got it right. He did.