Gap Creek: A Novel Hardcover – Dec 13 1998
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, January 2000: Robert Morgan's Gap Creek opens with one wrenching death and ends with another. In between, this novel of turn-of-the-century Appalachian life works in fire, flood, swindlers, sickness, and starvation--a truly biblical assortment of plagues, all visited on the sturdy shoulders of 17-year-old Julie Harmon. "Human life don't mean a thing in this world," she concludes. And who could blame her? "People could be born and they could suffer, and they could die, and it didn't mean a thing.... The world was exactly like it had been and would always be, going on about its business." For Julie, that business is hard physical labor. Fortunately, she's fully capable of working "like a man"--splitting and hauling wood, butchering hogs, rendering lard, planting crops, and taking care of the stock. Even when Julie meets and marries handsome young Hank Richards, there's no happily-ever-after in store. Nothing comes easy in Julie Harmon's world, and their first year together is no exception.
Throughout the novel, Morgan chronicles Julie's trials in prose of great dignity and clarity, capturing the rhythms of North Carolina speech by using only the subtlest of inflections. Clearly the author has done his research too--the descriptions of physical labor practically leap off the page. (Suffice to say, you'll learn far more about hog slaughtering than you ever dreamed of knowing.) Yet he resists the temptation to make his long-suffering characters into saints. Julie simmers with resentment at being her family's workhorse, and Hank flies into a helpless rage whenever he feels that his authority is questioned. In novels like The Truest Pleasure and The Hinterlands, Morgan proved his ability to create memorable heroines. In Gap Creek, he writes with great feeling--but not a touch of sentimentality--about a life Julie aptly calls "both simple and hard." --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Whatever trials Job suffered were nothing compared to the tribulations that befall Julie Harmon Richards. Following the deaths of her younger brother and father, 17-year-old Julie takes one look at 18-year-old Hank Richards and falls in love. Following their marriage a month later, the two move from their North Carolina homes to Gap Creek, South Carolina, where Hank works at a cotton mill and Julie cooks and cleans for a Mr. Pendergast in exchange for room and board. Pendergast is fatally injured trying to rescue his hidden savings during a devastating fire, and Julie, now pregnant, gives all of Pendergast's money to a man who tells her he is the lawyer for the bank that holds the mortgage on the house. Gap Creek floods and the house is ruined. Julie's baby lives only for a few months. Finally, Pendergast's heirs show up, so Hank and Julie, now pregnant again, leave Gap Creek for an uncertain future. Although Morgan, author of The Truest Pleasure (1995), has written better novels, even readers numbed by the seemingly endless series of disasters will respect Julie's strength of character and wish her well. Nancy Pearl --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Author Bio- Robert Morgan was born and raised in Green River, a small community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in 1968 he earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 1971 Morgan began teaching at Cornell University where, since 1992, he has been the Kappa Alpha professor of English. Morgan's childhood memories include that of growing up in a small and isolated valley in the North Carolina Mountains are a fertile and constant inspiration for his fiction, which deals with such powerful and formative experiences as attending Pentecostal services, farming, marriage, and fighting disease. Since 1969, Morgan has published four books of fiction, including The Hinterlands (1994) and The Truest Pleasure (1995) named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable. (bookbrowse.com)
Evaluation- I found the story of "Gap Creek" to be somewhat gory, but at the same time there was meaning and suspense to the story that kept the pages turning. This story is a very realistic way of life early in the 1900's when life was very frightening, and a lot tougher than it is living in today's world. The two main characters Hank and Julie fell in love and agreed to marry. They moved to Gap Creek where Hank got a job at a mill. Julie's job was to take care of Mr. Pendergast's house that he rented out to the couple.Read more ›
Julie is a hardworking woman who meets Hank and agrees to marry him. They moved to Gap Creek where Hank got a job in a mill. They rented a house with Mr. Pendergast where Julie's job is to take care of the house and their landlord. Through a series of unfortunate mishaps, Mr. Pendergast dies, Hank loses his job and Julie gets pregnant. Together, the naive couple struggle to survive the harsh winter ~~ where a huge flood destroyed most of their food crops that they had saved for winter ~~ and together, they find an inner strength they didn't know they had. They basically grew up, as most newlyweds do when they leave home for the first time.
It is a realistic look at life. Marriage is not about roses and sweet dreams coming true. It really is a marriage of two minds melding together in spite of obstacles placed in their ways. This is a marriage about survival. They needed one another to survive that first year. And together, they will beat the odds for as long as it takes.
I enjoyed it ~~ even the rather descriptive details about farm life and having to butcher your own animals for meals. However, that time wasn't too long ago that we haven't forgotten it. It's a rich look into life that once was and reminds us of how good we have it now.
While reading GAP CREEK I really emphasized with Julie and constantly wished she would get a break from her troubles. She had lived such a hard life in her young age. Along with Julie, all the other characters are realistic and well developed, especially Mr. Pendercast who I would love to read more of his life. Morgan takes the reader back in history to a time before the invention of modern technology. The descriptions of hard labor are sorrowful and make me greater appreciate the comforts of the 21st century. However, despite this book's downtrodden plot and dire circumstances I wouldn't describe it as being a depressing read. Rather I feel enlightenment in the strength of Julie. Her continuing struggle for perseverance is certainly admirable and gave me inspiration.
I enjoyed reading GAP CREEK, and would recommend it to others.
Most recent customer reviews
Long after reading this book you can't help but think about Julie throughout your day. When I think my life is overwhelming and full of problems I think about her (even though she... Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2007 by Kay
I checked out the audio version and could not get past CD 4. The constant "I said/he said..." drove me crazy. Read morePublished on May 20 2004
Great storytelling with movement, a great plot, and wonderful characters. You won't be disappointed.
Also recommended: McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood
For reading a detailed account of life in Gap Creek, I was expecting more of an emotional attachment from the protagonist than what Robert Morgan gave the lead character.Published on Dec 21 2003 by P. Bovell
Gap Creek is a great story, but it's too heavy on tragedy, hardship, and melodrama. It ends on a slight uplift toward hope, but nothing in the previous too-many pages leads readers... Read morePublished on Dec 17 2003 by Peggy Vincent
I think this book .. the way it was written was simple and easy which keeps the story moving and keeps my interest. Nothing is in the way of a good story. Read morePublished on Nov. 23 2003 by Sharon Cormier
The main character was so honest that you felt as though you knew her. She made no apologies for the truth; she held it right out there for you to see. Read morePublished on Nov. 6 2003 by Alicia Walker
I just finished this book up and was surprised at how good it was.
This book is a total tragedy though. Read more