Cover image for Wilderness run : a novel
Wilderness run : a novel
Hummel, Maria.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
339 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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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.

Author Notes

Maria Hummel is a writer and editor at MOCA in Los Angeles. She earned a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and taught there for several years. She has written several books including the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, Still Lives. Her other title's include Motherland and the poetry collection House and Fire. She is currenty an assistant professor at the University of Vermont.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When Isabel Lindsey and her cousin, Laurence, encounter a runaway slave near their New England home, it proves to be a turning point in both young people's lives. In two years' time, Laurence is serving as a private in the Union Army, where his upper-class background and tendency to recite poetry make him an outsider among his fellow soldiers. War proves to be the great equalizer, and Laurence acquits himself as a courageous leader amid his hellish surroundings. Isabel remains at home, where, much to Laurence's chagrin, she embarks on a chaste romance with her French tutor, Louis. When the war intensifies, Louis finds himself serving in the same regiment as Laurence. The love triangle comes to a head when the horrors of war bring them all to Washington, and Isabel must not only grapple with the war's gruesomeness but her feelings for both men. This carefully wrought historical novel is rich in period detail that Civil War scholars will certainly appreciate, while its appropriately tragic romance will appeal to those looking for an absorbing read. --Brendan Dowling

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 clichs. 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.