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Gap Creek (1999)

de Robert Morgan

Sèrie: Gap Creek (1)

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2,633504,080 (3.55)64
A novel on the harsh life in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the century. The heroine is Julie Harmon whose work load includes hauling water, butchering a hog, rendering lard, plucking a turkey, baking and preserving--all described in detail.
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In our modern world, we have no concept of how easy life is. This book drives that point home with every page. The water we so unconsciously get from the tap would have to be fetched at the spring, and maybe boiled, depending on conditions. The load of laundry we so carelessly throw in before leaving for the day used to take a full day's hard physical labor. The bread we pull out of the plastic sleeve would have to be hand-made with the flour that we milled and maybe the buttermilk that we churned after milking the cow, then put in the stove that we heated with the wood that we split, and on and on in a cycle of endless chores. Gap Creek is about work, both physical and emotional. Told from the view point of 17-year-old Julie Harmon in turn of the century (1900) Appalachia, the book describes the move from her own family where she did the work of a man due to her father's illness and death to her new home with her husband Hank where she still does the lion's share of work to help them make a start. Hank gets a job making bricks for a new mill, so Julie sets up housekeeping away from her family in an isolated area. This first home is actually in the cottage of an old widower who offered to let them stay there in exchange for meals and housekeeping. When the odious Mr. Pendergast dies due to burns from a house fire, their situation becomes even more precarious due the couple's naivete and the fact that they have no legal claim on the house and could be considered squatters. They live in fear of heirs showing up and are duped twice by people who claim to be them or represent them, and lose the only cash they had. Meanwhile they face fire, a freeze, flooding and famine, one calamity after another. The emotional work here is negotiating this new marriage, challenging in the best of times, but almost insurmountable in the obstacles they face. Julie is determined to be a good wife and keep Hank happy or at least stable, even after he loses his job due to a temper tantrum, lashes out at her verbally and physically and makes poor decisions. She is clever in the ways she appeases him and outsmarts him, but always with a loving intent. The story is simple and told in spare, but lyrical prose. Julie describes her relationship to work: "As I scrubbed the floor, I was scrubbing the world. And I was scrubbing my mind to make it clear. It was work that made me think clear and work that made me humble....it was with my hands and my back and shoulders that I could say how I feel." (122) Examples of just how strong she is include single-handedly butchering a pig (little too much detail involved -- like when they make head cheese in Little House on the Prairie!) and going through labor and delivering her own baby alone. ("This is work meant for me from the beginning of time" 284) So many situations should do her in, but she perseveres and the book offers hope, though not optimism. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Spoilers ahead

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan was also a free friday book and it was an Oprah Book of the Month book as well. Oprah, you did not pick a winner here. The story is about the first year of marriage between a young couple in 1900 South Carolina. It started out strong, with Julie being an unusually hard working and dedicated woman, and that doesn’t change. But at some point she totally stops standing up for herself. At one point of the story she gets conned and when her husband finds out he slaps her in the face and calls her a “stupid heifer” and what does she do? NOTHING!! If i was her i would slapped him right back and walked out the door. And the whole rest of the book her husband is temperamental and just about useless. Until the end when he kind of redeems himself (not really) when he takes care of Julie and their sick baby after Julie birthed the baby at home, by herself. And in the end they lose everything the worked for and wind up leaving their home. WTF. ( )
  artdamnit_reads | Jul 29, 2020 |
This was a hard book to read. It's the fictionalized story of the author's grandparents' first year of marriage and what a hardscrabble year it was. Like the old adage 'if it weren't for bad luck they would have no luck at all'. Fire, floods, bad mother-in-law, death of an infant; they had it all. I'm glad I finished they book but had I known I probably wouldn't have started it at all. Certainly not Little House on the Prairie. ( )
  book58lover | Jul 3, 2019 |
17 yr old Appalachian girl marries, accomodates to an imperfect husband. He learns to stand up for what is right, and deal with loss and hardship.
OK.
[read 2003-15 yr ago] ( )
  juniperSun | Jan 18, 2019 |
Robert Morgan writes about the life of a young woman in the late 1800's in the mountains of South Carolina. I was amazed at how well the male author portrayed the perspective of a young female. And what a strong young character was Julie. She along with her newlywed husband suffered through many hardships. Surprisingly, their marriage didn't end but ultimately became stronger as a result of their difficult life. If you like reading historical fiction and books about strong female characters, this is a book for you. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
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A novel on the harsh life in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the century. The heroine is Julie Harmon whose work load includes hauling water, butchering a hog, rendering lard, plucking a turkey, baking and preserving--all described in detail.

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