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Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

1999, Simon & Schuster

The New York Times Book Review (see cover image) compares this book's style to the "lonesome pathos" of Hank Williams songs. I can't say; but I really liked Morgan's simple and realistic depiction of life in the North Carolina mountains around the year 1900, and the emotions, fears and desires of the main characters as they try to live and love while surviving difficult conditions.

Surprisingly, I was not put off by detailed descriptions of unpleasant scenes such as slaughtering a hog; it showed clearly how hardworking the characters were.

Julie and her husband Hank face endless difficulties. Life is hard; marriage is hard and can both can bring heartbreak. But together they learn that it is this hard work, along with the community of others that give life meaning.

Gap Creek was inspired by writer Robert Morgan's maternal grandparents. He said the most difficult part was finding the right voice, that of uneducated mountain people, but that once he did, it was easy to write. He grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina before becoming an Ivy League professor and later, discovered by Oprah Winfrey, a bestselling author. Judging by his work, he hasn't forgotten his roots. (

After I joined the church I felt better about living on Gap Creek. We didn't have no money, and we didn't have a cow, and Hank didn't have a job. But there was a fellowship at Preacher Gibb's church that made you feel connected. In the worst times there is, you can get through with the support of other people. In fact, you can only get through with the help of other people. (250)

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