The Removes: A Novel (Paperback)
As the first wave of pioneers travel westward to settle the American frontier, two women discover their inner strength when their lives are irrevocably changed by the hardship of the wild west in The Removes, a historical novel from New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Tatjana Soli.
Spanning the years of the first great settlement of the West, The Removes tells the intertwining stories of fifteen-year-old Anne Cummins, frontierswoman Libbie Custer, and Libbie’s husband, the Civil War hero George Armstrong Custer. When Anne survives a surprise attack on her family’s homestead, she is thrust into a difficult life she never anticipated—living among the Cheyenne as both a captive and, eventually, a member of the tribe. Libbie, too, is thrown into a brutal, unexpected life when she marries Custer. They move to the territories with the U.S. Army, where Libbie is challenged daily and her worldview expanded: the pampered daughter of a small-town judge, she transforms into a daring camp follower. But when what Anne and Libbie have come to know—self-reliance, freedom, danger—is suddenly altered through tragedy and loss, they realize how indelibly shaped they are by life on the treacherous, extraordinary American plains.
With taut, suspenseful writing, Tatjana Soli tells the exhilarating stories of Libbie and Anne, who have grown like weeds into women unwilling to be restrained by the strictures governing nineteenth-century society. The Removes is a powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice!
"Soli brings a new twist to the oft-told love story of Libbie and George Armstrong Custer." —The Denver Post
"Vivid and unsettling . . . an engaging read." —The Historical Novel Society
"Ms. Soli honours the history she uses to tell her tale by the care she takes with her storytelling, and by the way she laces through the book documents and photographs from the era. She does not shy away from violence, but nor does she revel in it . . . the reader’s imagination has been well-schooled by the author’s art: the horror is more vivid for being created in the mind’s eye." —The Economist
"A narrative of the American West centered on women, a kind of remaking of the classic Western myth . . . Soli paints pictures that will stick in my head." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Manifest Destiny meets our feminist moment as Soli conjures the layered lives of two woman.” —O Magazine
"An epic, enthralling look at the American West in the mid-1800s, told through the eyes of General George Armstrong Custer, his wife Libbie, and Anne Cummins, a 15-year-old girl abducted by the Cheyenne in Kansas . . . With visceral, vibrant language, Soli paints a stark portrait of the violence, hardship, and struggles that characterized the American West." —Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
"Soli unleashes a thrilling novel set in the violent Wild West . . . The clash of cultures is Soli's grand theme, and here she drives home her message that the winners are no more worthy than the losers, and that "not even brotherhood was enough to safeguard people who had what others coveted." —Publishers Weekly
“The Removes is a stunning, vivid portrayal of captivity and freedom, and of wars waged on the landscapes and peoples of the American frontier. Tatjana Soli's writing is so visceral and evocative, one feels transported to that moment when history is forged. At once intimate and sweeping, unflinching and compassionate, The Removes is a magnificent read.” —Vaddey Ratner, PEN/Hemingway Finalist, author of In the Shadow of the Banyan
“Tatjana Soli’s The Removes is a rousing, thoroughly engrossing novel of the Indian Wars in the tradition of the best of western fiction. Told through the actions, suffering, and inner musings of three very different characters—the demon-ridden George A. Custer; his fervid wife, Libbie; and a persevering young woman captive of the Cheyennes—The Removes tells a tale of impeccable verisimilitude that is at once a tightly interwoven narrative and a kaleidoscopic picture of the Indian Wars of the American West. Readers will emerge with a keen appreciation of this tragic American epoch.” —Peter Cozzens, author of The Earth is Weeping:The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
“Tatjana Soli braids a beautiful and harrowing tale of Custer, his wife, and a fifteen-year-old girl held captive out on the western plains. Intimate and panoramic all at once, this is a novel of transformation and self-reliance, a book that powerfully questions what we know of women on the American frontier.” —Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
"The Removes is as beautiful a novel as I’ve read in some time. It tells of the nearly unimaginable brutality of western expansion through the stories of two women living in diverse captivities: Libbie, wife of philandering General Custer, and Anne, captured as a girl by the Cheyenne. Tatjana Soli’s writing is spare, lyrical, haunting, and heartbreaking, and countless images from this book will stay with me forever: the harsh majesty of the plains, the 'sheer animal joy' of horses running into battle, and the bravado of Custer’s long, meandering march to his ruin." —Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen, long-listed for the National Book Award
“Tatjana Soli weaves a stark western landscape, a national tragedy, and intimate portrayals of two pioneer women into a poignant and powerful tapestry of identity and belonging that will break your heart. I absolutely loved The Removes.” —Meg Waite Clayton, Langum Prize-honored author of The Race for Paris
"Tatjana Soli’s The Removes breathes new life into a story I thought I already knew inside out—the tale of George Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a century-old icon of American history, and exhaustively covered by Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star. Any writer entering these lists must be both bold and strong, and Soli proves herself all that, finding fresh blood in the strangely vexed, compelling romance between Custer and his wife Libbie, real pathos in the plight of captives both before and after “rescue,” and surprising sympathy for the man who wanted—fatally too much—to be a hero." —Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls' Rising, a finalist for the National Book Award
"Soli's new novel focuses on General Custer, the frontier, and the Indian wars. This is a western, but a modern one—beautifully detailed and carefully researched, completely free of the questionable mythologies that sometimes characterize the genre. A vivid, sometimes harrowing, but always riveting read." —Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
Praise for The Lotus Eaters and The Forgetting Tree:
“[A] haunting debut novel . . . Quietly mesmerizing.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times on The Lotus Eaters
“A devastatingly awesome novel. It's one of those books that I didn't want to put down.” —Nancy Pearl, NPR on The Lotus Eaters
“Daring . . . haunting . . . A remote citrus ranch can be a crossroads where cultures collide, and those collisions can be life-changing for everyone involved . . . Soli writes with patience and wisdom.” —Jane Smiley, The New York Times Book Review on The Forgetting Tree