Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan


by Hillary Jordan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1211633,090 (4.09)223

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 223 mentions

English (165)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (166)
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
Mississippi in 1946, a delta county filled with people capable of rage, lusty bigotry,recklessness and betrayal. A remarkable novel that allows us to live along side diverse characters both black, like Hap and Florence and their son Ronsel and white like Laura and husband Henry, Henry's brother Jamie, and their father Pappy. The story is told in chapters narrated by different characters so we get to know laura who starts as a spinster then becomes a farmer's wife on Mudbound, then a mother and discovers what she is capable of. We get to know Henry, her husband who only ever wanted to be a farmer and is a good soul but struggles to see beyond a black person's place and a white's. Jamie is the playboy a returned fighter pilot who cannot get his life on track and with good intentions creates drama. Henry and Jamie's father Pappy is a bigotted, rude, uncouth piece of trash who gets his just reward at the end. The black characters are Florence, who helps Laura and her husband Hap a preacher and a tenant farmer on Henry's land. he and Henry are more alike then they realize. Florence and Hap's son Ronsel has also returned from war in one of the only black regiments to serve. He struggles with returning as a subservient black man. This relationship between the black and white Delta man, at the cusp of civil rights, is the basis of this very excellent novel. I enjoyed every minute of it. ( )
  Smits | Apr 20, 2016 |
In 1939, at age thirty-one Laura is considered almost unmarriageable. All of her siblings have married and left the family home in Memphis. She has resigned herself to the fate of spinster schoolteacher when Henry McAllen appears and wants to marry her. He seems like a kind man, even if he is ten years older than her and with a limp from his time in France during the Great War. Unlike her family, he prefers the country and wants someday to move back to Mississippi and have his own farm. Feeling that this may be her only chance for marriage Laura swallows her fears and agrees. World War II changes both of their plans and those of everyone around them, but when the war ends, Henry moves his family, now grown to include two daughters and his father, to a farm in rural Mississippi. The life and people they encounter there shape the narrative of Hillary Jordan’s powerful debut novel Mudbound.

Through a series of unfortunate events Henry and Laura do not get the lovely house and acreage Henry described for their farm. Instead, he is swindled and they must live on their land in a shack with no plumbing or electricity. Henry has not deliberately lied to Laura but it hardly matters; her life has gone from one of gentility to one of drudgery. In short order she has not only two children to take care of, but also Henry’s father, a miserable, belligerent racist, who makes everyone’s life as miserable as the inside of his own twisted mind. Their income is derived in part from their own crops and from another family who lives on a parcel of their land. The Jacksons have the same kind of dreams as the McAllens but as blacks in the 1940s South they are even less likely to achieve them.

Jordan gives all of the main characters in Mudbound a voice, and delineates them so clearly it never becomes confusing. As different as they are two of the most memorable are Ronsel and Laura. He is the hope of his parents, but is unable to reconcile himself to being relegated a second class citizen in the country he fought for with distinction. The intelligence and pride that served him so well in Europe only causes him problems in Mississippi. For Laura, life is a dreary, loveless existence acting as a maid to a bitter, racist old man who, despite having sold his son’s birthright, believes his word is law. That Jordan can slip into the skins of such a diverse and conflicted set of characters means that by the end she has laid her story down so skillfully that their actions, as repugnant as some may be, are the only option. Mudbound is filled with a strong, quiet sorrow that permeates the page the way the mud pervades every aspect of its characters’ lives. It is a portrait of a time in American history that is as shameful now as it was then. ( )
  cathgilmore | Mar 31, 2016 |
5***** and a ❤

This is a work of literary fiction that deals with what it means to live in the Jim Crow south just after World War II, when being a war hero isn’t enough to get respect if your skin is black.

The story is told in alternate voices – one character per chapter. We have Laura, a woman from an educated household, a college graduate and “spinster” when she marries Henry McAllan at age 31 in Memphis. Henry is the oldest son of “Pappy” McAllan, a mean, prejudiced cur of a man who sold his wife’s family land at the earliest opportunity and moved in with his married daughter and her banker husband after his wife died. Henry has always longed to be back on the land, farming. And when his brother-in-law dies, and he’s left trying to fix his sister’s life and take on the care of his father, he makes a sudden decision (without consulting Laura) to buy a piece of land near Marietta GA. He plans to rent a house in town for Laura and their girls, but he is taken advantage of and without a lease he has no choice but to move the family onto the farm … a ramshackle building with a leaky roof, no electricity, no phone and no plumbing. Laura accepts her lot as Henry’s wife, but puts her foot down when it comes to having Pappy in the same 2-bedroom house – No. So Pappy is moved to the lean-to (after Henry puts in a floor).

As is typical of the South in 1947, they have sharecroppers on the land. Six families live there when Henry buys the place, but he lets three of them go, keeping the three he feels work the hardest. One of these families is the Jacksons – Hap, Florence and their children: Lilly May (who has a club foot), twins Ruel and Marlon (about age 10), and their oldest Ronsel who is away at war when the novel opens. Ronsel is a shining star in the black community – a handsome, strong, intelligent man who has more schooling than most of his contemporaries. He’s a decorated soldier of the 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion and has seen a different world in Europe, where a black man is accepted based on who he is, not shunned based on his skin.

Florence is a strong woman – physically, mentally and emotionally. She’s a midwife and tends her family and her “ladies” with a no-nonsense competence. She also begins to work for the McAllen’s as a cook and housekeeper, helping Laura partly out of pity but mostly because her family can use the extra money. Hap is a man of his race and generation. He’s strong, works hard and smart, is a preacher, and counsels his children to “know their place” in the white man’s world.

And finally we have Jamie, the youngest McAllen son, who has been a bomber pilot in Europe and returns a changed man … charming as ever most of the time, but drinking to excess to quell his demons. His inability to stand up to his father, and his shame over this is a central force in the book.

When Ronsel returns and begins a vague friendship with Jamie over a bottle of whiskey events are set in motion which can only lead to the inevitable tragedy. The ray of hope in the final chapter is a lifeline the author offers. I’m conflicted about accepting it. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 11, 2016 |
Mudbound by Hillary Jordon
324 pages


Taking place in the 1940s in the Jim Crow South – this story revolves around two families and is told from the point of view of 6 different people. It’s a difficult to give too much a description without giving away this one.

This is a book I’ve had for years and have never read. I didn’t know what to expect – I’m terribly lazy at reading the synopsis for most books, I just wing it especially if recommended by a trusted group of friends. And what a wonderful and heart-wrenching story this was – from all aspects. I loved the writing and I enjoyed the different views, how one event could be seen so different depending on the person. The characters were well written, they weren’t flat and boy did she really make you hate those characters you were supposed to but there were so many ones to love as well. While it was a novel, it was a good lesson in history. I am glad I finally got around to reading this wonderful book. Worth the read if you have yet to read it.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Recommended by Ms. Thompson
  EDHSLC | Feb 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth. bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and of excrement.... A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point.----James Agee, "Let us Now Praise Famous Men"
To Mother, Gay and Nana, for the stories
First words
Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
In this award-winning portrait of two families caught up in the blind hatred of a small Southern town, prejudice takes many forms-some subtle, some ruthless. Mudbound is the saga of the McAllan family, who struggle to survive on a remote ramshackle farm, and the Jacksons, their black sharecroppers. When two sons return from WWII to work the land, the unlikely friendship between these brothers-in-arms-one white, one black-arouses the passions of their neighbors. As the men and women of each family tell their version of events we are drawn into their lives. Striving for love and honor is a brutal time and place, they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale and find reemption where they least expect it. -back of book
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 156512569X, Hardcover)

Jordan won the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Mudbound, her first novel. The prize was founded by Barbara Kingsolver to reward books of conscience, social responsibility, and literary merit. In addition to meeting all of the above qualifications, Jordan has written a story filled with characters as real and compelling as anyone we know.

It is 1946 in the Mississippi Delta, where Memphis-bred Laura McAllan is struggling to adjust to farm life, rear her daughters with a modicum of manners and gentility, and be the wife her land-loving husband, Henry, wants her to be. It is an uphill battle every day. Things started badly when Henry's trusting nature resulted in the family being done out of a nice house in town, thus relegating them to a shack on their property. In addition, Henry's father, Pappy, a sour, mean-spirited devil of a man, moves in with them.

The real heart of the story, however, is the friendship between Jamie, Henry's too-charming brother, and Ronsel Jackson, son of sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm. They have both returned from the war changed men: Jamie has developed a deep love for alcohol and has recurring nightmares; Ronsel, after fighting valiantly for his country and being seen as a man by the world outside the South, is now back to being just another black "boy."

Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Henry, Jamie, Ronsel, and his parents, Florence and Hap, the story unfolds with a chilling inevitability. Jordan's writing and perfect control of the material lift it from being another "ain't-it-awful" tale to a heart-rending story of deep, mindless prejudice and cruelty. This eminently readable and enjoyable story is a worthy recipient of Kingsolver's prize and others as well. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1946, Laura McAllan tries to adjust after moving with her husband and two children to an isolated cotton farm in the Mississipi Delta.

» see all 6 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Hillary Jordan is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
40 avail.
216 wanted
5 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.09)
1 3
2 11
2.5 9
3 109
3.5 49
4 318
4.5 60
5 218


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,885,403 books! | Top bar: Always visible