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Mudbound [Paperback]

Hillary Jordan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 25 2008

Few debut novels garner the kind of widespread acclaim that has greeted Mudbound. This captivating story set in the Mississippi Delta features city-bred Laura McAllan, a woman struggling to adjust to life on her husband’s isolated farm, her brother-in-law, Jamie, newly home from the Second World War, and Ronsel Jackson, son of the black sharecroppers who work the McAllan land and himself a war hero. When the two men refuse to live by Mississippi’s strict racial mores, tragedy ensues. Hillary Jordan has written a moving, powerful novel of forbidden love, betrayal and murder, capturing a dark period of the past.


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Mudbound + The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novel + The Kitchen House: A Novel
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Jordan's beautiful debut (winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for literature of social responsibility) carries echoes of As I Lay Dying, complete with shifts in narrative voice, a body needing burial, flood and more. In 1946, Laura McAllan, a college-educated Memphis schoolteacher, becomes a reluctant farmer's wife when her husband, Henry, buys a farm on the Mississippi Delta, a farm she aptly nicknames Mudbound. Laura has difficulty adjusting to life without electricity, indoor plumbing, readily accessible medical care for her two children and, worst of all, life with her live-in misogynous, racist, father-in-law. Her days become easier after Florence, the wife of Hap Jackson, one of their black tenants, becomes more important to Laura as companion than as hired help. Catastrophe is inevitable when two young WWII veterans, Henry's brother, Jamie, and the Jacksons' son, Ronsel, arrive, both battling nightmares from horrors they've seen, and both unable to bow to Mississippi rules after eye-opening years in Europe. Jordan convincingly inhabits each of her narrators, though some descriptive passages can be overly florid, and the denouement is a bit maudlin. But these are minor blemishes on a superbly rendered depiction of the fury and terror wrought by racism. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

?A literary page-turner so filled with tension you can all but hear an ominous soundtrack as you read.?

(Edmonton Journal)

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Most helpful customer reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Debut March 24 2008
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is a stunning debut novel.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. The cover art captured me first. The stark contrast of the ramshackle house against the bountiful cotton field intrigued me. I wanted to know the story of that house and it's inhabitants.

Laura has resigned herself to life as a spinster when she meets Henry McAllan in 1939. She eventually accepts his proposal of marriage and they settle down to urban life in Memphis, Tennessee. Family upheaval and Henry's desire to own a farm lands them, their two children and Henry's sly, cruel father in rural Mississippi on a cotton farm. There is no electricity, no running water and when the river rises, they are cut off from the town. There are tenant farmers on the land as well, black and white. Racial tensions and long held prejudices run deep in the Mississippi Delta.

Mudbound opens with Henry and his brother Jamie burying their father on the farm. Jordan's descriptions paint tangible pictures. " The soil was so wet from all the rain it was digging into raw meat". Laura's description of the farm also paints a vivid picture. "When it rained, as it often did, the yard turned into a thick gumbo, with the house floating in it like a soggy cracker"

From that opening scene, we relive how Henry and Jamie came to be burying their father. Each character has a voice in the telling of the story. Henry, Jamie, Laura, Florence and Hap - the black tenant farmers on the McAllan farm and Ronsel - their son. Ronsel and Jamie have both just returned home from the war. Both men have been changed by their experiences and form an unlikely friendship. In the Jim Crow south, this is unacceptable and drives the story to it's inevitable conclusion.

I could not put this book down.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Southern Fiction May 9 2008
By Teddy
Format:Paperback
In 1939, at 31 years old, spinster, Laura meets Henry McAllen. After a bit of dating, they get married and start a family. Henry works for the Army Corps of Engineers, they're in the city. This is great, because Laura is a city woman through and through.

One day Henry comes home with news, he has bought a farm in the Mississippi Delta and is quitting he job to farm. Of course this is quite a blow to Laura, Henry didn't even consult her. The farmhouse has none of the conveniences that city folk take for granted such as running water, plumbing, electricity, etc. However, Henry is her husband, so Laura goes along with it.

After WWII Henry's brother Jamie shows up at the farm. At the same time Ronsel Jackson returns home as decorated solder. He is the son of the black sharecroppers' family living on the farm.

Ronsel and Jamie become friends, which is very risky in the Jim Crow south. This unlikely friendship is what brings this powerful novel to its grim conclusion.

Mudbound is told by each of the character's own point of view. This technique works very well for this novel. Jordon was able to write each characters point of view so well, that it felt as if I was each character. She really enables the reader to get in side the heads of the characters.

Jordan's prose sings! She makes the farm a kind of character itself and captures both its beauty and muddy short falls, exquisitely!

I highly recommend this book and can hardly wait for Hillary Jordan to write another novel!

Thanks to Harper Collins for an advance copy of this wonderful book!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book! Nov. 29 2008
By MacFly
Format:Paperback
Mudbound, by Hillary Jordon, is a book that stands out among others. It is her first novel and one that has placed this author on my watch list for her future works. The story revolves around Laura and her husband Henry and his brother Jamie. Set in Mississippi during the 1940s, the boundaries that existed between black and white residents is explored through a story that captures the reader from the very first page. Each chapter is told from the perspective of the various main characters allowing a greater depth to the story. Once I was a few chapters into this book, I couldn't put it down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent enjoyed it Jan. 10 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy fictional history you will enjoy this. This is. Story from a woman's perspective. I enjoyed this book
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