Here and Again

Written by Nicole R. Dickson
Review by Cecelia Holland

Why does a Confederate soldier, trying to get back home in 1863, keep on turning up in Ginger Martin’s orchard in 2012? The answer is Nicole Dickson’s elegantly crafted ghost story Here and Again. Occasionally syrupy, mostly precise and sure, the novel is steeped in the atmosphere of the Shenandoah Valley, both now and in the Civil War when Stonewall Jackson’s troops fought to control it.

Ginger Martin, widowed by the Iraq War, is struggling with her grief and her children’s lives on a farm, and it is the farm life that sustains her. Dickson makes it all sound a little too easy, but she conveys the power of the land to heal the people devoted to it. The story of the Confederate soldier, told mostly in his lovely letters to his wife, weaves a counterpoint to Ginger’s coming to terms with her life. Her day job, in a rural hospital, adds a valuable layer of grit to the plot. Maybe the most compelling character of all of them is one who never even appears: Ginger’s dead husband, Jesse, whose soul still binds his family together. The resolution of the ghost story is especially satisfying. A rewarding read.