One of America s most acclaimed writers journeys to the land on which he has staked a literary claim to paint an indelible portrait of a family in a time of unprecedented change. When Robert Morgan began the saga of the Richards family in his novel Gap Creek, the book became an Oprah Book Club Selection, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers to its beguiling story of a marriage begun with love and hope but beset by chaos at the turn of the twentieth century.Read more...
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One of America s most acclaimed writers journeys to the land on which he has staked a literary claim to paint an indelible portrait of a family in a time of unprecedented change. When Robert Morgan began the saga of the Richards family in his novel Gap Creek, the book became an Oprah Book Club Selection, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers to its beguiling story of a marriage begun with love and hope but beset by chaos at the turn of the twentieth century. Now, in a masterful work of historical fiction, he introduces a new generation of this close-knit family in a captivating story that looks ahead to the uncertainties of the future, the struggle to define oneself, and the discovery of enduring love.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-07-01
- Reviewer: Staff
Robert Morgan returns to his bestselling Gap Creek characters, the Richards family, as well as the Peace family from his earlier Appalachian story, The Truest Pleasure. Annie, the daughter of Gap Creek’s Julie and Hank, is married to Muir Peace, but her younger brother Troy and his dog, Old Pat, are closest to her affections. In Morgan’s world, nothing loved the way Troy and Old Pat are loved can escape tragedy for long, but the pair possesses an intelligence and curiosity that captivate; art, ambition and healing enter the Richards house through their bond. While Troy’s work produces admiration and opportunity, Muir’s work often leads to humiliation; he lays the foundation for an ill-fated stone church on a mountaintop that mirrors his dream of becoming a preacher. As in Gap Creek, Morgan reserves his harshest blows for Julie; after her brutal early years she has forced some beauty and satisfaction into her home, but more bitter loss is in store for her. Annie is granted a kinder fate; as she agrees to marry Muir, she says: “I saw how hard it would be, and I didn’t care,” and in the end, Annie’s own road grows smoother. (Aug.)
'Gap Creek' continues with an indomitable daughter
Writing a sequel to a popular novel is a risk, especially when the first one was a national bestseller, like Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek, an Oprah Book Club selection.
The Road from Gap Creek will please this gifted storyteller’s legions of fans—as well as those who missed Gap Creek when it was published in 1999. The books need not be read in chronological order. On the contrary, the plaintive and plainspoken poetry infused in both novels allows them to stand alone as separate stories about the same family: Hank and Julie Richards and their four children.
While Gap Creek was narrated by the family’s matriarch, Julie, The Road from Gap Creek is safely in the hands of her youngest daughter, Annie, who has inherited her mother’s indomitable spirit and courage in the face of an endless stream of adversity.
After beginning their married life in South Carolina in Gap Creek, the Richards family has returned home to North Carolina, where the duality of incredible beauty and abject poverty continues to define Appalachian life. From the first pages, Morgan tugs readers into the pathos of a personal tragedy experienced by countless families during the World War II era, heralded by the arrival of a telegram at the family’s doorstep. Still, Morgan does not linger long on grief; instead, by chapter two the story has skipped back to happier days, with the arrival of the family dog, Old Pat, a wise and lovable German Shepherd who is devoted to Annie’s brother Troy.
For teenage Annie, a talented actress in her high school’s theater productions, the allure of life beyond the sleepy and God-fearing Green River community is tempting. Still, her family ties and loyalty are stronger than her dramatic ambitions, and thus, she finds herself post-high school working as a store clerk in a nearby town to help support her struggling Great Depression-era family. Unlike her parents, who plunged into an early and turbulent marriage, the cautious Annie is stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge her lifelong attraction to the devout and idealistic young Muir.
Morgan has crafted another painfully luminous portrait of rural American family life: honest, captivating and resplendent in all its messy glory. Readers will find themselves bereft upon saying goodbye to the Richards clan—and hopeful that Morgan might consider a trilogy.