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.
“The Removes is a stunning, vivid portrayal of captivity and freedom, and of wars waged on the landscapes and peoples of the American frontier.”—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.”—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] 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."—Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen, long-listed for the National Book Award
"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."—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
"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 . . . Soli paints a stark portrait of the violence, hardship, and struggles that characterized the American West."—Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
THE FIRST REMOVE
Indian attack—Fighting alongside the men—The massacre—Family—Taken captive—The march
The thunder of the rifle inside the house so blasted Anne’s ears that she forgot for a moment the reason...