Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War” as Want to Read:
Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War

(A Novel of the Civil War #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  92 reviews
During the Civil War, two young soldiers on opposite sides find themselves drawn together. One is a war-weary but scholarly Southerner who has seen too much bloodshed, especially the tortures inflicted upon the enemy by his vicious commanding officer, his uncle. The other is a Herculean Yankee captured by the rag-tag Confederate band and forced to become a martyr for all t ...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by Lethe Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Purgatory, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Purgatory

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  324 ratings  ·  92 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War
Audible headphones_icon_1


I don't want to write a long review. No, not because this book didn't deserve it. Totally the opposite.


Jeff Mann is an amazing writer. His writing and I are compatible. Even more than this. His writing makes my body react. His writing makes my soul and damn what ever REACT.


A heartbreaking, emotional moving LOVE STORY, enemies-to-lovers.

But it is so much more tha
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, historical, bdsm
I’ll give you a fair warning before you start reading this review : I went all emo on this book!

Purgatory is a heavy, slow-paced read, invested by an allegory (yeah, I’m showing off) where Christian martyrdom is shoved back in bigots’ faces and where nature and eroticism only bring poetry.
It’s about coming out of anonymity and becoming a human being again, about growing up, about finding balance and harmony and companionship in one’s desires. It’s about being a soldier, being a man, being gay,
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't shout loud enough about how good this book is !! Not an easy read, it captures the cruelty of people in war, though people are cruel bastards any time. It explores the contradictions and conflicts of love , and attraction. ' Sodomites'. What awful word that is, makes me shudder from the tip of my toe nail to the angry curl on my head. But I know, it's a word still used to belittle and turn us into animals even now. Hah, now I'm thinking of stalagmites and stalagtites. And caves. Anyway. ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't feel like writing a huge review for this one, but as a reader, every once in a while, I come across a book which shocks me completely, shatters my world, makes me wonder the variations of human nature and may even change me in a way. To me,"Purgatory" is one such book. This is a kind of book which not only did I feel completely taken from the very first page with the war-related intensive plot, but also with Ian's, the narrator, fundamental sense of compassion, who may have existed but n ...more
I finished Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read this book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print edition to arrive so I can pet the gorgeous cover, but couldn't wait to read it), and it was worth it.

The other novellas that I read during the week were also by Jeff Mann. I re-read some the short stories from his Lambda Award winning collection A History of Barbed Wire, and read his novella "Camp Allegheny" from the anthology History's Passions edit
John Wiltshire
Oct 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: given-up-on
Uh-huh. Do you know that moment when, innocently searching for something on YouTube, you find yourself in freaky territory? Home surgery? No? You're lucky. I felt a bit like that last night when I settled down for what I thought was going to be a Brokeback Mountain of the Civil War. Even the cover makes it looks like a ... proper novel, doesn't it? No. It's freaky territory. WTF? This book is seriously weird and disturbing. At first I thought it reminded me of bad fan fiction. There's no real pl ...more
I would sacrifice the South for him. I would sacrifice the world

I don't know much about Jeff Mann. I do know that I have read two novels by him in the past week, and they have both left me wanting more. His writing is gritty, downright disgusting at times, yet so beautiful it makes me cry. It is real. That's what it is. It all feels so real.

Purgatory is the story of two young men who are so deep into the Civil War they wouldn't recognize the men they started out as if they saw them in a mirr
Sorry Lena, this was just ok for me. The author a good job of capturing the hardship of the setting and it seemed historically accurate. The characters were reasonably well formed. My issue was with the story arc, it didn't seem to arc as much as waffle between an endless hurt/comfort cycle. ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. The sense of time and place is immaculate and the level of research gone into this novel is obviously extensive. Light readers should be forewarned that this book contains plenty of torture scenes as one of the MC's is a prisoner of war, but it still builds into a wonderful love story with an HEA that is begging for a sequel, even if the love itself seems a bit quick to happen.

Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it

This is the second book by this author I've read, and again, the descriptions were great. The descriptions of the scenery, the food, the everyday life, the weather and the people are so well done.
What especially got me crawling all over while reading where the descriptions of lice and fleas, something that was probably was common under those dire circumstances, and how the soldiers handled it (well, of course they had lice races, making bets and so on).
I love a book where I can totally im
DNF at 45%

This book was not for me AT. ALL!

First, I would like to say that I really did not care for the "obsession" the MC (author?) had for hair.
Let me tell you something: I'm reading m/m books for about 3 years, and I learned that some of the amazing characters I read about, are, how should I put it... Love things, and/or smells, that I don't find highly hum... Tempting??
I definitely learned to appreciate smells "musky" "soapy with undertone of sweaty" etc'...
I'm not gaping in shock when the
Audible headphones_icon_1

I don't need to add more to my review, except that I REALLY ENJOYED the narrating voice of Mikael Naramore.
It's how I imagine a southerner would sound.

I started this book as an audio book, and was immediately attracted to his voice. I switched later to an e-book version only because I wanted to read every free minute: during the lunch pauses at work, while watching TV or while pretending to take part in a conversation.

Good that I have my workout hours and could listen to this book t
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting blend of history, romance and ugliness that left me feeling quite conflicted. I really enjoyed the premise, and Jeff Mann is gifted in telling tense, atmospheric stories I but was left feeling a bit cheated by the unfinishedness of the ending. Another detracting factor for me was the clunky, old-timey dialogue which, to my modern sensibilities felt awkward (and I have no idea how accurate this was or wasn't since my only reference point for the American civil war is ...more
Lichen Craig
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(This review appears at the GLBT Bookshelf:

A five-star review should be hard-earned, in order for it to carry weight. A really brilliant piece of literature displays the writer’s ability to perform a few acrobatic feats – this requires a real understanding of the technical aspects of writing. If a writer can do this, and do it in a unique fashion, the book will be inspiring, not merely a good read. With “Purgatory”, Jeff Mann has offered up a gourmet feast of a book
Nile Princess
3.75ish. A bit slower than Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal, but just as heartwrenching and gritty. The inclusion of so much poetry made me skim a few lines here and there (Jeff does love his Whitman, doesn't he?) and, at times, it seemed like the torture just wouldn't end, but in between those are such beautiful, poignant moments that it just makes your heart melt.

I LOVE that Drew was big and muscular (when he pulled the wagon out the mud I damn near swooned) and that even though, Ian was ph
Frau Sorge (Yuki)
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The writing is beautiful. The lyrical narrative makes the reading slower than usually - the reader just have to stop the proces and admire the simple beauty of language.
It's a great story, and it seemed off to me in the one single moment, so I gave it 4 stars.
Elisa Rolle
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
2012 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
Skye Kilaen
Jan 13, 2017 added it
Shelves: 0-fiction
I'm not rating this one, because even after reflecting I'm too mixed up about it. First, before I go any further, know this: I don't have a problem with BDSM. I don't have a problem with writers creating characters and situations that are murky grey. I do believe that for many Southerners at the time, the Civil War had very little to do with the specific right to own slaves. I also believe that the Southern economy they were defending was paid for with the murder and rape of African-Americans. A ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m
2012. That’s what amazed me the most when I read this novel. The moment you start reading it, tripping over phrases and paras which highlight the gruesome shrubbery of war or the mustering hateship of both the sides, I couldn’t help but be more and more amazed withe poetic touch to it all. It seemed so full of sensations and the narrator all too ready to hold me in his grasp of everything around him. I know this narrator part sounds cliched, but the narrator was never crisp like modern novels’ n ...more
A.B. Gayle
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction, shelf-32
I have a confession to make.
I was so worried that there wouldn't be a HEA that I read the end first.
Then, once I knew the answer, I flipped to halfway through and read to the end, and then once that was done, I flipped back to the beginning.
I know, I know. I shouldna' done that, but I actually found it intriguing, seeing how Jeff Mann manipulated the writing to make each subsequent action plausible.
I noted one review condemned the story because of the POV's cowardice.
To understand that, it helps
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this, it's gritty and has some seriously hot moments. I guess what makes it a 4 read and not a 5 is the unrelenting tension the author builds. There were no peaks troughs, just one massive build and made me feel a little uncomfortable. Like I needed some down time!
Not for the squeamish, but definitely worth a nosey.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jeff Mann is a superb writer. This historial novel blends war,romance, BDSM and food (yes food) into a beautiful work of art. I was there every moment, as Mann's book is written in the moment, so rich in detail, emotion, fear and optimism. This a major work of fiction. ...more

Big warning up front: this book contains scenes of violence and torture, so if this bothers you, you should stay away from it.

Me? I cannot stay away from "from enemies to lovers" themes, and this book certainly did not disappoint. As you could see from the blurb, the action takes place during the US Civil War, and Drew gets captured by a unit of Southern so
Box of Bees
I got halfway through, which was a feat, but I had to stop. It is well-written, but I could not handle any more of the creepy dynamic nor any more of Drew's fuzzy buttocks. ...more
Apr 01, 2013 marked it as to-read
I'm not even sure why I'm adding this. But I just did. ...more
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book really fried my brain. In a good way. I love feeling speechless and emotionally messed up after reading a book. And this one made a *very* strong impression on me. There were so many terrible, entirely wrong things happening in this book - on 87% I felt like I was about to break, there was just too much abuse, it was unbearable. And at the same time the love between two main characters, Ian and Drew, is so bright, pure and strong. The book really makes you think about the extremes of a ...more
~ Lei ~ Reading Is An Adventure ~
★★★★☆ ~ 4 Stars
You can tell Jeff Mann did his research into the nittiest (no pun!), grittiest details into the food and conditions of the day in the the fourth year of the Civil War, a scary time in U.S. history where young Northern and Southern boys and men were sacrificed. And, unfortunately, just as during in any wartime, brutality reigns.

You're alternately horrified and transfixed by the beauty of his words. And dammit, after all that (view spoiler)
Vfields Don't touch my happy!
No one can say Jeff Mann can't write and write well. He always has command of his characters and takes the time to give them many layers that allows them to become real to the reader. That being said this was not an easy read due to the heavy subject matter. The pain everyone experienced and inflected on others to survive body and mind was at times overwhelming but honest. I kept thinking about giving up but again Mann maintained such a powerful situation compelled made me to continue to the end ...more
Danyele Johnson
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the mindset you need to pick and enjoy this book:


I swear, I almost couldn't finish because of all the angst and fear over the ending. I was so worried about both protagonists. However the writing was spot-on, the setting captivating and the premise great. You certainly have enough pull to finish the book, almost too much so that you fear what does happen. To all you HEA lovers out there: (view spoiler)
John Crowe-Lockerman
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book... I had to slow down to make it last longer (torture).... then I cried when it was over, tears of sorrow and of joy! There were so many ups and downs, so many emotions: fear, sorrow, horror, suspense, joy, elation, anger, hatred, and excitement! I loved every minute of it! Now I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of book two, Salvation. It is going to be a long wait.... sigh. To Ian and Drew: Yes we look for guys like you... like us, through out history. We know you existed, ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Code Silver (The Sierra View #1)
  • Caulky (Four Bears Construction, #1)
  • Virgin Flyer
  • Wood (True Lover's Stories, #2)
  • Prisoner (Kria, #1)
  • The House of a Hundred Whispers
  • The Oracle's Queen (The Tamír Triad, #3)
  • Darkspell (Deverry, #2)
  • Hidden Warrior (The Tamír Triad, #2)
  • The Bone Doll's Twin (The Tamír Triad, #1)
  • Who Let the Gods Out? (Who Let the Gods Out?, #1)
  • Murder of a Lady (Dr. Hailey #12)
  • The Boys Omnibus Vol. 1
  • Interview with the Robot
  • Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3)
  • Wanderers
  • The Cuckoo's Cry
  • Daddy's Bite
See similar books…
Jeff Mann’s poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many publications, including Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Laurel Review and The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. He has published three award-winning poetry chapbooks, Bliss, Mountain Fireflies, and Flint Shards from Sussex; two full-length books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine and On the Tongue; a collection of personal essays, Edge: Tr ...more

Other books in the series

A Novel of the Civil War (2 books)
  • Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War

Related Articles

  In most romances, a romp in the hay comes after many chapters of meeting cute, silent pining, and steamy banter. Not so for books that...
34 likes · 6 comments