Josephine Humphreys Nowhere Else on Earth

ISBN 13: 9780099415466

Nowhere Else on Earth

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9780099415466: Nowhere Else on Earth

Brought up in a mixed-race community - part Scots, part Native American - in the forests of North Carolina in the mid-nineteenth century, Rhoda is the first of her family to be able to read and her parents have plans for her. But the coming of the Civil War brings labour conscription for her brothers, who become outlaws, unwilling to fight for the Confederacy; and when Rhoda falls in love with the outlaw leader Henry, her mother fears the relationship can only lead to disaster. Beautifully written and stunningly observed, "Nowhere Else on Earth" takes the reader into the backwaters of the American South and the chaos and anarchy of civil war, in the heart-breaking story of one of the most appealing heroines of recent fiction.

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Review:

Although not a single cannon is fired in Josephine Humphreys's quietly ambitious Nowhere Else on Earth, the lives of the inhabitants of Scuffletown, a poor Indian settlement on the Lumbee River in North Carolina, are in every way affected by the Civil War. The demand for turpentine, their principal industry, has dwindled to nothing. When they are not fending off or involuntarily "supplying" Union soldiers and marauding gangs, they are hiding their sons from the macks, their hostile Confederate neighbors (pink-faced Scottish farmers with names like McTeer and McLean), who are rounding up Scuffletown boys for forced labor in forts and salt works, from which few have returned.

Sixteen-year-old Rhoda Strong has seen both her brothers disappear into the woods to join this gang, headed by the handsome, charismatic Henry Berry Lowrie, the hope of Scuffletown--who keeps the young men alive through a series of crimes that inevitably escalate to match the cruelties of the macks. To her mother's distress, and to her own, Rhoda finds herself falling in love with Henry Lowrie, so obviously a marked man. When he notices her, and returns her love, she too becomes marked, dubbed the Queen of Scuffletown by her enemies and drawn into a larger history of suffering and revenge.

Writing from the vantage point of middle age, Rhoda resurrects the past, "hot as coals," in an obsessive act of remembrance, having studied and pondered her story for over 20 years.

One dog tooth is gone, and my monthly flow has dwindled to a spatter. I'm not as full as I used to be, my wrists are skinny, my knuckles are knobs. I'm starting to wear thin. This is the price of the years of thinking, the casting and recording of events and the frantic pen scratching past midnight, the hoarding of paper, the loneliness, the pages accumulating while I myself shrink down.
Rhoda's richly detailed and beautifully sustained fourth novel will recall, in the best ways, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (also set in North Carolina, the most "Union" of the Confederate states), although Humphreys has given her heroine a fresh, strong voice, and in turn given a voice to Scuffletown. --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Josephine Humphreys lives in Charleston, North Carolina. She is the author of three previous novels.

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HUMPHREYS,J
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ISBN 10: 0099415461 ISBN 13: 9780099415466
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