Wilderness Run

Overview

Winter 1859: While exploring the frozen expanse of Lake Champlain, Isabel "Bel" Lindsey and her cousin Laurence hear a hoarse voice call out to them, the voice of a runaway slave.

The teenage children of wealthy Vermont lumber barons, Bel and Laurence decide to hide and aid the runaway. The choice catapults them from their sheltered upbringing into the central issue of their time: slavery and the future of the Union. Wilderness Run recounts ...

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Wilderness Run: A Novel

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Overview

Winter 1859: While exploring the frozen expanse of Lake Champlain, Isabel "Bel" Lindsey and her cousin Laurence hear a hoarse voice call out to them, the voice of a runaway slave.

The teenage children of wealthy Vermont lumber barons, Bel and Laurence decide to hide and aid the runaway. The choice catapults them from their sheltered upbringing into the central issue of their time: slavery and the future of the Union. Wilderness Run recounts their coming of age as it follows America's own loss of innocence after entering the Civil War.

Two years pass and Laurence is a soldier fighting in some of the war's bloodiest battles, while Bel, in the confines of her father's mansion, begins to fall for her French-Canadian tutor, Louis Pacquette-only to see him enlist for the Union. As Laurence and Louis become friends and serve in the same brigade, Bel starts to unravel a painful family secret. The history of family and nation come together when Bel goes to serve as a nurse in Washington, D.C., and after the terrible fires of the Battle of the Wilderness, reunites with the two men who love her.

Featuring vivid characters and visceral war scenes balanced by intimate portraits of domestic life, Wilderness Run is a powerful debut by gifted young writer, Maria Hummel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gifted poet has immersed herself in the history of her home territory to write a mesmerizing first novel." —David Huddle, author of The Story of a Million Years
David Huddle
"A gifted poet has immersed herself in the history of her home territory to write a mesmerizing first novel."
Publishers Weekly
The horrors of the Civil War are the crucible of romance for two Vermont cousins in Hummel's debut, which is gracefully and evocatively written but hobbled somewhat by a plot that features several war-novel clich s. The book begins when 12-year-old Isabel Lindsey and her 17-year-old cousin Laurence encounter a runaway slave and try to save the man despite the objections of Isabel's father. The tragic outcome triggers a crisis of conscience for Laurence that leads him to enlist in the Army of the Potomac. His stint in uniform cures him of his rich-boy sense of privilege, exposing him to the nightmare of battle and forcing him to struggle to gain the acceptance of the men in his regiment. While Laurence is coming into his manhood as a soldier, the smart, independent Isabel finds herself challenged by her attraction to her French tutor, a Canadian named Louis Pacquette, who changes his neutral stance toward the war and enlists. Their relationship turns triangular when Laurence returns to Vermont after a minor injury in battle and finds that he has feelings for Isabel. Hummel creates solid characters while capturing the day-to-day reality of military life during the Civil War, and her well-paced, elegant prose turns especially poignant at the end when Laurence is gravely wounded and saved by Pacquette at Chancellorsville. Sending a young rich man to war is a time-worn plot device, but Hummel is a solid writer who inserts enough intriguing turns in her narrative to keep things interesting. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this debut novel, Hummel recounts the intrusion of the Civil War into the lives of cousins Isabel and Laurence Lindsey. At the age of 12, Bel has always been protected and cosseted by her wealthy Vermont family, while Laurence, five years older, attends school in Boston. On one of Laurence's infrequent visits home, the cousins find a runaway slave on the frozen lake. Their attempt to help him without involving their disapproving fathers brings home the harsh political realities of 1859. Two years later, Laurence enlists in the Second Vermont as a foot soldier, and the cousins' stories continue in alternating sections. Laurence experiences the boredom and squalor of military life punctuated by bloody battles, while Bel continues her safe and privileged existence. Eventually, Belle goes to Washington, DC, with her aunt to do her part by working in a hospital. Hummel's language is lyrical and vivid, and her portrayal of the everyday life of the Lindsey family and of Laurence's regiment is detailed and realistic. However, except for Laurence, the characters lack depth. The story and historical setting are interesting, but the reader is left wanting more. Recommended for larger public libraries. Ann Fleury, Tampa-Hillsborough Cty. P.L., FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Civil War, a budding romance, snippets of Walt Whitman-none of these does very much to elevate this flat first novel of two cousins during the War Between the States. It's 1859, and Isabel Lindsey, 12, worships her older cousin Laurence, so when he insists she help a runaway slave they stumble upon, she hesitantly agrees. Though it's a free state, some Vermonters, including the prominent Lindsey family, return runaway slaves to their owners. The fate of the poor slave the two are unable to help spurs Laurence to join the Union Army a couple of years later to fight for justice. The hardships of war, the camaraderie of (and sometimes conflicts between) the soldiers, the change from Laurence the boy to Laurence the world-weary man in just a few short years-all these are well-detailed yet not especially original ways to approach this oft-written-about American tragedy. Though largely concerning itself with Laurence and his experiences on the battlefield, the story occasionally shifts back to Bel at home in Vermont, and the speedy romance that has developed between her and her French tutor, Louis. Inspired by Bel's convictions, Canadian Louis decides also to fight for the North and soon finds himself face-to-face with Laurence, who, in his exhaustion, has decided that he's in love with Bel, too. That, and a somewhat pointless subplot involving a romance between Bel's mother and Laurence's father (perhaps unrequited), gives respite from the war at the front. The graphic finale, when Laurence and Louis barely survive the devastating Battle of the Wilderness, has Bel in a Washington hospital nursing an unrecognizably deformed Laurence and stealing kisses with Louis. Solid language, likablecharacters, steady enough plot-and yet the story never seems to take off, stuck as it is in material that's been picked over with a fine-toothed comb. Another for Civil War buffs or history junkies. Others can pass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312287573
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.92 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria Hummel is an award-winning poet who has written for The Georgia Review, Green Mountains Review, and other publications. She is also the author of House and Fire and Motherland.She received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied under a Randall Jarrell Fellowship. She is a native of Vermont and lives with her husband in Los Angeles, California.

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Reading Group Guide

Winter 1859: While exploring the frozen expanse of Lake Champlain, Isabel "Bel" Lindsey and her cousin Laurence hear a hoarse voice call out to them, the voice of a runaway slave.

The teenage children of wealthy Vermont lumber barons, Bel and Laurence decide to hide and aid the runaway. The choice catapults them from their sheltered upbringing into the central issue of their time: slavery and the future of the Union. Wilderness Run recounts their coming of age as it follows America's own loss of innocence after entering the Civil War.

Two years pass and Laurence is a soldier fighting in some of the war's bloodiest battles, while Bel, in the confines of her father's mansion, begins to fall for her French-Canadian tutor, Louis Pacquette-only to see him enlist for the Union. As Laurence and Louis become friends and serve in the same brigade, Bel starts to unravel a painful family secret. The history of family and nation come together when Bel goes to serve as a nurse in Washington, D.C., and after the terrible fires of the Battle of the Wilderness, reunites with the two men who love her.

Featuring vivid characters and visceral war scenes balanced by intimate portraits of domestic life, Wilderness Run is a powerful debut by a gifted young writer.

Read More Show Less

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