Neil's Reviews > Wilderness

Wilderness by Lance Weller
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Jun 20, 12

Read from June 07 to 20, 2012

Wilderness is the story of Abel Truman, and the events surrounding two traumatic periods that define his life: the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, and his attempt in 1899 to leave the wilderness where he has isolated himself for 35 years and find a bit of redemption before he dies.

Abel's a northerner who went wandering after the tragic death of his wife and child and somehow ends up fighting for the Confederates. His real loyalties are to a couple of somewhat pathetic friends, survivors of the lengthening war. They're destroyed in the horrific Battle of the Wilderness, as his Abel's arm. Some coincidences save his life, but have tragic side effects that leave him wandering, all the way out to Washington State and the shore of the Pacific Ocean, where he spends the next 35 years as a hermit.

Together with his dog (this is a first rate dog story), he decides in 1899 to return to the world as an old man, but soon encounters some rough men who plunge him into another odyssey of violence.

This is an epic tale set against towering landscapes and told in poetic language, but only 300 pages long. It's the best Civil War fiction I've read since Cold Mountain, maybe even better than that. Unless you can't stomach violence, I recommend you get your hands on this. It's a truly moving story about the resilience of the human spirit, a cathartic masterpiece by this debut author.
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