#237 ~ Mudbound

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Published by: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Published on: March, 2009

Page Count: 340

Genre: Historical Fiction

For Consideration: Violence and racist language

Format: audio book purchased through Audible.com

Availability: hardcover, paperback, audio book, and eBook

My Thoughts

Mudbound is the story of a woman who falls in love with a man whose one true love is the land.  Laura gives up all hope of marriage until Henry McAllen comes along.  This was a relief to her because, just after World War II, spinsters were still seen as a hardship on their families.  While Henry is a nice gentleman, he’s not what anyone might call passionate.  He’s especially not passionate like his brother Jamie is.  Still, Laura finds contentment in her married life to Henry, living not too far from her family in her hometown.   She soon becomes a mother of  two daughters.   Her world is turned upside down, however, when Henry moves the family along with his father from the city to an isolated farm in rural Mississippi.  A farm Laura and her girls call Mudbound.

  • Meghan at Medieval Bookworm recently wrote the best review I’ve read of this novel.  I agree with everything she says about it and I’m not even going to try to match it.
  • I read this book on audio.  The narrators were all really good, although the narrators for Laura and Ronsil were by far the best.
  • I spent most of my time with this novel angry.  I was angry at the injustice that 1) a man could drag his wife to hell and back if he wanted to because he was her husband and 2) that a simple difference in pigmentation meant the difference between coming and going as you pleased and being forced to exit a store by the back door.
  • Although he wasn’t an outwardly or maybe even purposefully evil man, I truly hated Henry McAllen. He took advantage of every situation – a young woman nearly a spinster, the tenant farmers on the land he bought, the racial climate of his age.  He may have thought he was a good man, but he made his happiness king and punished those who didn’t bow to his will.  I cannot recall ever wanting to shoot a character in a book before Mudbound.

The amount of emotion this novel stirred up in me says more about Hillary Jordan’s writing than anything else I can say.  This is not an easy read, but it is quite worthwhile.

Other Voices

In addition to Meghan, you can check out reviews of Mudbound by the following bloggers:

The Boston Bibliophile
Lesley’s Book Nook
The Sleepy Reader
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
A Bookworm’s World
Dolce Bellezza
An Adventure in Reading
Farm Lane Books Blog


  • At 2010.03.02 07:22, Marg said:

    This was definitely a very powerful book.

    • At 2010.03.02 09:21, Stephanie said:

      I haven’t read this one yet, but it seems like an important read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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      • At 2010.03.02 09:24, Stephanie said:

        I can’t wait to read this book–it sounds great and the reviews on it so far have been wonderful.

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        • At 2010.03.02 09:37, Kay said:

          Jennifer, thanks for sharing your reactions to this book. I definitely intend to read it this year. I think it sounds like an important book. Such emotion.

          • At 2010.03.02 10:00, Meghan said:

            Thank you so much for the link, Jennifer! Needless to say, I agree with everything you’ve said. I really hated Henry too. The worst part was that he thought he was doing the right thing, and he was so so wrong and selfish.

            • At 2010.03.02 10:50, Ti said:

              I’ve seen this book make the rounds but I’ve never stopped long enough to even see what it was about. Nice review. I like the bulleted highlights.

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              • At 2010.03.02 11:21, Luanne said:

                I so agree with you. Jordan’s writing reaches out and just grabs at your emotions and feelings and never lets go, even after you turn the last page. This one stuck with me for quite a while.

                Thanks for the link.

                • At 2010.03.02 11:25, rhapsodyinbooks said:

                  That is so funny that you can’t write a review now that you have read Meghan’s! I used to read other reviews before writing my own, but there are too many wonderful blogger-writers out there, and I found I would never have written a thing if I kept looking at others right before I was trying to write! :–)

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                  • At 2010.03.02 12:33, Lisa said:

                    I love that you hated a character so much that you wanted to shoot him! A book that makes you have that deep of feelings is a book worth reading.

                    • At 2010.03.02 13:22, Aarti said:

                      WOW, I don’t think I really even have an idea of what this book is about, but it clearly created a very passionate response in you. I have had that happen before! Thanks for such a strong review.

                      • At 2010.03.02 14:03, Shelley said:

                        Sounds like a very evocative book. The man loves the land; I wonder how the woman’s relationship to the land is portrayed. Often, as in the case of my research, the farm wife could be just as rock-solid in her dedication to the farm as the husband was. As with many other things, a common devotion to a third thing can actually strengthen a relationship.

                        • At 2010.03.02 16:51, softdrink said:

                          I thought this was a fantastic book, especially with all of the different narrators. I think it makes a good companion read with The Help, too.

                          Good thing there were no eyeballs in it. 😀

                          • At 2010.03.02 17:44, diand said:

                            I loved your review and hope to read this in 2010.

                            • At 2010.03.02 18:43, Julie said:

                              This one has been on my TBR list for a while. I hope I get to it soon! Thanks for your thoughts.

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                              • At 2010.03.02 21:28, Kristi said:

                                Ok, I’m sold. Sounds like a very stirring read. Thanks for the review.

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                                • At 2010.03.04 14:05, Fyrefly said:

                                  Thanks for the link! This book just made me so uncomfortable to read, but it’s weird that I didn’t ever translate that uncomfortableness into anger at Henry (who was its source). It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but I can still really vividly remember quite a few particular scenes, which speaks really highly to how much it affected me.

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                                  • At 2010.03.04 22:45, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

                                    I’ve got to get hold of this book! I love books that evoke emotions and you’ve made this one sound fabulous, even though that emotion is anger.

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                                    • At 2010.03.05 11:42, Sue said:

                                      I just finished this yesterday and I totally agree with your review. I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated. How did people treat each other like they did? Ifeel fortunate that we’ve come so, so far.
                                      I’ve been thinking I might pick this as my book group pick next month.

                                      • […] The Literate Housewife Review […]

                                        • At 2010.06.11 12:38, Mudbound – Book Review – caribousmom said:

                                          […] The Literate Housewife […]

                                          • At 2011.10.03 00:01, #372 ~ When She Woke said:

                                            […] the story lines between Mudbound and When She Woke are entirely different, it didn’t take me long to recognize the emotion […]

                                            • At 2012.06.23 08:44, JSC said:

                                              Laura has made a choice: she married Henry (out of love or out of the desire NOT to become a spinster?)
                                              The durability of her relationship depends on the feelings she has for her brother-in-law, Jamie.
                                              Isn’t this novel about the weakness of women?

                                              Racial and social prejudices in 1945 can scarcely be judged by 2012 values. Society has evolved, as it always does and always will.

                                              (Required, will not be published)

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