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Gap Creek [Paperback]

Robert Morgan
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 20 2000
Imprint. Oprah Book Club selection.

Product Details

Product Description

From Amazon

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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book that we should all read! Feb. 15 2007
By Kay
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 was a fictional character, she epitomized the women of that day) then I honestly don't feel so bad. So what if I have to put the umpteenth load in the electric washing machine, fill the dishwasher with a never ending array of dishes, cook dinner (at least there's food to cook!) etc. etc. etc. Compared to her life, I am blessed..... and she makes me never forget that!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous! May 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I checked out the audio version and could not get past CD 4. The constant "I said/he said..." drove me crazy. However, the worst thing about it was the unbelievably dreary story line and how unrealistically mature and introspective Julie was. Her character, for all she went through, was actually one-dimensional and predictable. All the book amounted to were detailed descriptions of country life and too many down home southern sayings. It was one trial after another with ridiculous "tough" insights by Julie. This was not realistic! Do not waste your time on this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The married life May 16 2004
By Gayle
Annotation-"Gap Creek" is a story based on love and marriage between two very compassionate human-beings. Gap Creek is a story of growing up, overcoming obstacles, and managing life with all hands. This story will open up your heart and take you into a world filled with realities of what married life can turn out to be.
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. (
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking! Feb. 8 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Great storytelling with movement, a great plot, and wonderful characters. You won't be disappointed.
Also recommended: McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read Jan. 30 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this once before years ago and when I discovered that it is on Oprah's booklist, I decided to read it again. It's beautifully written and I enjoyed it more so the second time around ~~ especially since I had gotten married since the first time I read it. However, like a lot of Oprah's other selections, it is rather depressing. Ok, maybe depressing is the wrong word to use. It is very realistic look at life in the early 1900s when life is still tough and hard, especially for mountainfolks who have no money for medicines and knowledge.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting detail, no emotional punch Dec 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too heavy on melodrama Dec 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 to believe things will EVER work out for Julie and Hank. There's some beautiful writing in these pages, but man, this author needs to lighten up a little on the pathos. What is it with these Oprah books that seem to celebrate misery?
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