Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
From the book jacket –
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 inot 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.
My thoughts –
I actually did not think that I would enjoy this book very much, it’d been on my TBR pile for years and I’d just really been dreading it, so that’s why I forced myself to pick it up and read it for the TBR 2008 Challenge. I’m glad I did, because I did like it more than I had anticipated. Not one of my favorite books of all time or anything, but a pleasant, enjoyable 300 pages. On the front cover, this book is subtitled “The Story of a Marriage” and that’s really what it is. This is the story of Julie and Hank and their trials and tribulations being young (17 and 20), newly married, poor as can be, and living in the mountains in the late 1800’s. The two of them are just trying to figure each other out, and are bombarded with all these other obstacles that neither of them expected, and that they have to work together to overcome. Even though the setting is more than a hundred years ago, there are definitely parallels to all marriages, even my own. I, like Julie, am fairly young (though not as young as her, I am 24), and recently married (last June), and there have already been several things in our marriage that have tried our patience, our love for each other, and our faith. But just as in this book, in a marriage you work together and get through the hard times because those issues illuminate the good times (which hopefully there are more good times than bad) and make those good things so much better.
There were, however, a few things about the novel that I didn’t love very much. For one, I wasn’t a fan of the style of writing Morgan used. I always have a difficult time when books are written in a certain dialect, and I know that’s really just my problem, but this book was written with the certain type of “mountain” voice which I guess they would have had. Now, knowing nothing about living in Appalacia or the people who live there, I can only assume this is precicely how they talk. But still, I found it hard to concentrate through some of the slang Morgan used to tell the story. The other thing is that there were several events in the story that Morgan briefly touched upon, but never went back to or really explained. The best example of this I can think of is when Julie’s sister, Carolyn, came to visit them, it was heavily hinted at that Hank and Carolyn were sleeping together (or at least, doing something they shouldn’t have been doing) but after Julie “realized” it was nothing, the subject was never discussed again. I think the story could have taken a little more interesting of a turn if there was more to a story there.
But generally, a pretty good book with a simple, yet heartfelt, story that I think many people will enjoy. And unfortunately, because it is an Oprah selection, I think a lot of people would shy away from (which I understand, I kind of do the same thing even though I really enjoy Oprah), but I think it’s worth a read.