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Mudbound [Paperback]

Hillary Jordan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Oct 2008

When Henry McAllan moves his city-bred wife, Laura, to a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta in 1946, she finds herself in a place both foreign and frightening. Henry's love of rural life is not shared by Laura, who struggles to raise their two young children in an isolated shotgun shack under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the Second World War shudders to an end, two young men return from Europe to help work the farm. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not and is sensitive to Laura's plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the farm, comes home from war with the shine of a hero, only to face far more dangerous battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. These two unlikely friends become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books; Reprint edition (2 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099524686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099524687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hillary Jordan grew up in Texas and Oklahoma and received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Mudbound is her first novel.

Product Description


"A page-turning read that conveys a serious message without preaching" (Observer)

"This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm" (Barbara Kingsolver)

"Blatant injustice is heartbreakingly brought to life by Hillary Jordan in her debut novel...A tale that has echoes of the novels of John Steinbeck and Alice Walker...The varied viewpoints allow for an intimate insight into each character's thoughts and motivations that enriches the novel" (Glasgow Herald)

"Jordan builds the tension slowly and meticulously, so that when the shocking denouement arrives, it is both inevitable and devastating...A compelling tale" (Glasgow Herald)

Book Description

When I think of the farm, I think of mud...There was no defeating it. The mud coated everything. I dreamed in brown.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard & Judy 100% right again 21 Oct 2008
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is really powerful. It's set in the Deep South of the USA just as World War Two has finished, where little had changed since the abolition of slavery. White and black farmers live side by side amidst terrible prejudice, yet the war has changed things, and terrible consequences follow. But there's also a lot of love, and family in the book. If you liked Cold Mountain I think this might be a good choice.

The story is incredibly dramatic. It's told by each character in turn, so you hear lots of different voices as the tale progresses. My hair was on end for much of the book and I cried at the ending, which is heart-wrenching. It is as vivid as a good film, but in addition, is beautifully written, with a really strong, muscular sense of the story and of the characters. Hillary Jordan makes a point of showing the goodness and the evil that are both in the world, and links the terrible events of the book to tiny chance decisions that could have gone either way. The ending is really brilliant too. I think Richard & Judy have picked some really good books and this is another one.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering, shocking and beautifully written 4 Dec 2008
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is one of those books I guess which will continue to resonate, and linger in the mind. Its particularly shocking as it forces us to remember how VERY recently the civil rights movement became something mainstream.

In the year when Americans elected Barack Obama to the White House, its so shocking to remember that only a few decades ago, in the most powerful nation on earth, apartheid was still the norm in some states, that the lynching mob was still in operation for black people who 'stepped out of line' (a line drawn by racists)

This story, set at the end of World War II, and dealing with the effects of that on the men who returned to the States from Europe, changed both by an expansion AND a loss of innocence, and also it is about the effect of family, both in its strengths and weaknesses.

The book is told through several different voices, and Jordan builds our sense of compassion, horror, pity, shame and disgust beautifully.

Her ending hints at, but doesn't guarantee, hope
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gifted debut 9 Mar 2008
Early in the second chapter of Hillary Jordan's brilliant new novel Mudbound, one of her leading characters, Laura, says, "I suppose the beginning depends on who's telling the story. No doubt the others would start somewhere different, but they'd still wind up at the same place in the end." And this is the key to the book's whole structure. We have just seen the end. In Chapter One we saw Laura's husband and his younger brother digging a grave on their farm, a grave seven feet deep in what seems to have been total mud. They were burying their father, who did not, it is hinted, die from natural causes. How this end came about we are told in the following chapters, each of which is narrated by one of the others.
This is of course a structure similar to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but the comparison need not stop there. Hillary Jordan writes with the same slow-burning intensity and this area of the Mississippi Delta is struck by the same tragedies, the same storms - meteorological, emotional and racial - as any in Yoknapatawpha County.
Two young men have returned to the Delta from serving in World War Two: Laura's young brother-in-law and the son of one of the black share-cropping families who work on her husband's land. They have seen a different world and no longer fit in to this bigoted and racist community. They become friends. But the young black is seen to be riding in the passenger seat of his friend's pick-up truck instead of in the back where he belongs, and that is cause enough for all that follows. It is a violent and brutal story but told with understanding and compassion.
Mudbound won the Bellwether prize for fiction, a prize awarded biennially to a first literary novel that addresses issues of social justice. and I feel sure that there will be many more prizes won by this outstandingly gifted writer.
Neil Curry
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, wonderful book 13 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is hard to believe that this is the author's first novel. Beautifully written from the points of view of several of the protagonists, each is as distinctive as it is convincing. You can hear the voices of the deep South negroes in your head as you read. All the characters are rounded and smypathetically portrayed (apart from the truly appalling Pappy)and as the novel reaches its dreadful climax, it is quite impossible to put it down. One of the best novels I have read in a long time. If you want a beautiful, human, intelligent and gripping read, look no further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars page turner 31 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a truly great read.. a real page turner. It was difficult to put this book down.. great characters. I enjoyed it immensely and passed it on to my sister and brother in law who both loved it. Brother in law read it in one sitting. Highly recommended and will be passing it on to others to read too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, but not easy to read 22 Feb 2010
By M. K. Burton VINE VOICE
Laura thought she was destined for spinsterhood until Henry McAllan chose to make her his wife. What she didn't bargain on was his desire to own land, and their move to a cotton farm a few years later with two small girls. Laura hates the farm, which she and her daughters christen Mudbound, and hates her father-in-law, who has no place to live but with them. When World War II ends, Henry's brother Jamie comes to stay with the family, and so does Ronsel Jackson, the son of the sharecroppers nearby. Sharing the common bond of fighting men, Ronsel and Jamie become friends of a sort, in a way that no one in the South will tolerate for very long.

It's hard to say I liked this book, but it was compelling and completely horrifying in parts. This is particularly so because most of the characters in the book are very racist. I know people genuinely thought like this when and where this book is set, but it bothers me and I can't understand it (which, I suppose, is a good thing). I wanted all the characters to stop being close-minded, to think more like Jamie, who sees Ronsel as a person despite the color of his skin and respects the military achievements that he made.

The book rotates between viewpoints, giving us insight into all of the characters' heads. We can witness Laura's unhappiness, Henry's land-lust, Jamie's jitters and bad memories. Ronsel's memories of war in Europe were for me the most affecting. He describes the difference it made in Europe when he was defined as a man, not as a black man; the wonder of having a white woman fall in love with him and everyone make him feel like he was valued.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Liked the way each character told their story. Life was tough for all of them which made it a hard read at times.
Published 11 days ago by Joanie R
5.0 out of 5 stars painful account of America's shameful racism.
Great insight into the events affecting all the protagonists told from each of their perspectives to give a fuller balanced picture if the reality and thoughts that surround each... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Ruhi
4.0 out of 5 stars Historically Fascinating and Very Memorable
Hillary Jordan's award-winning first novel is set in Mississippi, for the most part immediately after World War II. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kate Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I read it twice.
Stories of life in the American deep south abound these days, but this engrossing novel offers so much more: the intimate entwinement of two struggling families - one white, one... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sarah J L Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbound.
I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel set in Mississippi in the years immediately following the Second World War. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bluecashmere.
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad book about courageous people
How would any of us survive a flooding of our whole town and being cut off for weeks. This story about a man who stays behind and looks after others showed me how brave some people... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. S. M. McALPINE
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
Slow story line building up to a good finish. Good insight to life , down south in America in the 40's .
Published 6 months ago by B'head book club reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's well written and has an interesting husband loved it too. A great read.
Published 7 months ago by SC
4.0 out of 5 stars Mississippi after World War Two
In the mud and poverty of the cotton fields of post war Mississippi, passions blaze up. Hillary Jordan describes well the economic depression in a region where a more fertile past... Read more
Published 7 months ago by gerardpeter
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy Read
I found the book quite absorbing but was horrified by the treatment of the black community after the second world war in the US. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Liz Goffin
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