Synopses & Reviews
There is a most unusual woman living in Gap Creek. Julie Harmon works hard, "hard as a man" they say, so hard that at times she's not sure she can stop.
People depend on her. They need her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. She is just a teenager when her little brother dies in her arms. That same year she marries Hank and moves down into the valley where fire and visions visit themselves on her and where con men and drunks come calling.
Julie and Hank discover that the modern world is complex, grinding ever on without pause or concern for their hard work. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay.
With Julie, Robert Morgan has brought to life one of the most memorable women in modern American literature with the same skill that led the Boston Book Review to say that he writes "with an authority usually associated with the great novelists of the last century."
In this novel, Morgan returns to the vivid world of the Appalachian high country to follow Julie and Hank in their new life on Gap Creek and their efforts to make sense of the world in the last years of the nineteenth century. Scratching out a life for themselves, always at risk of losing it all, Julie and Hank don't know what to fear most--the floods or the flesh-and-blood grifters who insinuate themselves into their new lives.
Their struggles with nature, with work, with the changing century, and with the disappointments and triumphs of marriage make this a powerful follow-up to Morgan's acclaimed novel, The Truest Pleasure.
“Morgan . . . shows what it was like to be human in a time and place now far removed from modern America. He creates living, breathing souls who, as transparent as their dreams and fears may seem today, demand to be taken seriously.”
—The Orlando Sentinel
“His stripped-down and almost primitive sentences burn with the raw, lonesome pathos of Hank Williamss best songs.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping storytelling, indelible sense of time and place . . . Morgan turns the stories of prosaic lives into page-turners.” —The Raleigh News and Observer
GAP CREEK IS THE WORK OF A MASTER.--Fred Chappell
"Julie Harmon is like other strong mountain women created by Harriette Arnow, Lee Smith, and Wilma Dykeman; she survives poverty, flood and pain by mixing hard work with love. Perhaps because he is a poet, Morgan uses her voice in simple but luminous prose that tells the truth whether about the beauties of Appalachia or the human struggles during childbirth and death throes."--Doris Betts
"In examining the hard, honest lives of his people, Robert Morgan gives voice to a time and place rarely imagined. Gap Creek speaks of things both intimate and eternal."--Stewart O'Nan
"A starkly beautiful story of a strong young woman prevailing over natural disasters and tragedies, as well as cultural barriers, in the first year of her marriage in the last year of the century."--Loyal Jones
"Gap Creek is the work of a master. Robert Morgan knows every corner, every inch, of the way of life he portrays in this deeply affecting book. He has created one of the most admirable heroines in modern literature; I feel that I'll remember her always. Here is strength and grace and immeasurable courage: a triumph!"--Fred Chappell
A New York Times Bestseller and Oprah's Book Club Pick
Young Julie Harmon works "hard as a man," they say, so hard that at times she's not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better.
But Julie and Hank's new life in the valley, in the last years of the nineteenth century, is more complicated than the couple ever imagined. Sometimes it's hard to tell what to fear most--the fires and floods or the flesh-and-blood grifters, drunks, and busybodies who insinuate themselves into their new life. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay. Their struggles with nature, with work, with the changing century, and with the disappointments and triumphs of their union make Gap Creek a timeless story of a marriage.
About the Author
With prose that critics have termed “pitch perfect,” “lyrical,” and “delicately textured” and that the New York Times Book Review compared to Cormac McCarthy’s, ROBERT MORGAN has created a body of work that includes, in addition to fiction, both poetry and biography. A native of North Carolina, he currently lives in Ithaca, New York, where he is Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell University. He is the recipient of grants from the NEA as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations.