Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Gap Creek
an international best-seller and winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award comes the gripping story of two brothers struggling against each other and the confines of their mountain world in 1920s Appalachia.
The Powell brothers Muir and Moody are as different as Cain and Abel. Muir is an innocent, a shy young man with big dreams. Moody, the older and wilder brother embittered by the death of his father, by years of fighting his mother, and by his jealousy of Muir's place in the family takes to moonshine and gambling and turns his anger on his brother. Muir escapes by wandering, making his way around the country in attempts to find something an occupation, a calling to match his ambition.
Through it all, their mother, Ginny, tries to steer her boys right, all the while remembering her own losses: her husband (whose touch still haunts her), her youth, and the fiery sense of God that once ordered her world.
When Muir, in a drunken vision, decides that his purpose in life is to clear a space on a hill and build a stone church with his own hands, the consequences of his plan are far-reaching and irrevocable: a community threatens to tear itself apart, men die, and his family is forever changed. All that's left in the aftermath are the ghosts and the memories of a new man.
"Although the novel suffers from overdetailing, episodic pacing and seemingly pointless anecdotal tangents that leave many loose ends dangling in the mountain breeze, it's an entirely pleasant read and a testimony to the power of faith and integrity in the face of life's severest hardships." Publishers Weekly
"Formerly Oprah-selected Morgan sticks with familiar characters and themes in a lightweight novel....[He] venture[s] into interesting thematic territory. But, like his patchwork book overall, his look at the conflict between faith and organized religion is spotty and incomplete....Simple in a literal way. Morgan's fans will be pleased." Kirkus Reviews
"Morgan offers another gritty tale of life in the rural South....Morgan delivers a surprisingly compelling narrative, with Muir's flawed adventures providing the momentum....Morgan writes very simply about hard times and deep faith, and this story will resound with modern readers." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"Though Morgan still pursues his favorite theme, the redeeming power of work, his new book is both more ambitious and more uneven than Gap Creek. Not a lightweight Bildungsroman, this novel instead illuminates the painful movement from boy to man. As such, it might not satisfy earlier Morgan readers..." Library Journal
"In Morgan's hands...details become the stuff of stern, gripping drama....You begin to feel, as you sometimes do when reading Cormac McCarthy's or Harry Crews's early novels, that the author has been typing with blood on his hands and a good deal of it has rubbed off onto your shirtsleeves." The New York Times Book Review
"This historical novel will please both students and teachers looking for supplemental fiction when introducing 20th-century Southern gothics." School Library Journal
"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
Praise for Robert Morgan:
"At their finest, his stripped - down and almost primitive sentences burn with the raw, lonesome pathos of Hank William's best song." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Reminiscent of James Dickey - bearing the same naturalistic marks of clear, clean prose and often disturbing imageryT Morgan casts a stark story peopled with real, believable, and honest characters." (Baltimore Sun)
"Morgan turns the stories of prosaic lives into page - turners." (The News and Observer)
"Morgan writes "with an authority usually associated with the great novelists of the last century." (The Boston Book Review)
About the Author
Robert Morgan, author of the award-winning novel Gap Creek, is a native of the North Carolina mountains, where he was raised on land settled by his Welsh ancestors.