HERE AND AGAIN by Nicole R. Dickson
Available now from Blackstone Audio.
From the Publisher:
“Deep in the Shenandoah Valley, the present and the past are as restless as the river mists. And when they collide, the heart is the only compass pointing home.
For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past.
By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies.”
From the Booklist Review:
“Dickson’s story is nothing less than a meditation on the eternal forces of warfare, death, loss, grief, and the longing for a place we call “home.” Seattle ER nurse Ginger Martin lives on her late soldier husband Jesse’s North Carolina farm, desperately trying to manage. Physically, she trades medical care for planting and harvesting aid; emotionally, she’s walking a tightrope to keep her children’s hopes and memories alive but not drifting into the past; and mentally, she tries to cope, even when a Confederate soldier turns up and walks through locked doors. Cinematic flashbacks to times preceding Jesse’s Iraq redeployment and to the Civil War provide many characters, ranging from young to old. Southerners with light to deep accents—and a Yankee doctor’s Northern speech—are depicted perfectly by White, whose nonaccented performance of the omniscient narrator is equally effective. Her best characterization is the frightened, conflicted Ginger, a stranger in a strange land—where calves are insured but most patients aren’t—yet it paradoxically feels like home.” — Whitney Scott
From the review at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog:
“Karen White narrates the audio version of Here and Again and she does an outstanding job! I’ve been a fan of her work for a while and I think this is her best effort to date. She does a fabulous job with voices and even makes some animal sounds! The book is worth listening to just for her narration.”
My Recording Experience:
I was enchanted with this book from the moment I heard about it. Though I grew up partly in Richmond, Virginia and still have a lot of family there, I’ve never been to the Shenandoah Valley. This book makes me want to remedy that. In addition to painting (past and present) western Virginia in delicious tones, Dickson‘s writing resonates because of the inner struggle of its main character to do what’s right. Ginger’s journey was a quiet but deeply emotional one, and getting to play her story out along with that of all the other quirky people around her (alive or dead…?) was a joy. This story will stick with me for a long time (and I can’t stop talking about it – to the point that my children are sick of hearing about it). I hope it will for you, too.
On a more prosaic note, I had a great time going over accents with Nicole Dickson. She had some definite ideas about how Samuel would speak, that his accent was a unique combination of someone who had grown up in the mountains and then went away for his education. We both did a good deal of You Tube research – Ms. Dickson found a sample of two girls from West Virginia to give me an idea of what was in her head. I also added the sounds of this interview of a Civil War veteran into the mix for Samuel. And for fun, you might enjoy this story on the dialects of Southern Appalachia.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook here (between Ginger and her father, both from the Pacific Northwest. To hear the Virginia accents, you’ll have to listen to the whole book!):