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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 the 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 the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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
After the death of her brother and father, 17-year-old Julie Harmon leaves her mother and sisters in the mountains of North Carolina to start a new life in the valley of Gap Greek... Read morePublished on July 30 2003 by MissGoWest