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All the Living: A Novel Paperback – February 2, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
It is Orren, Aloma's lover, who speaks those implacable words (above) about happiness. He is a young man determined to make a go of the tobacco farm he inherited when his mother and brother died. He's tied to the land by grit, grief, duty, and sheer stubbornness, and he wants to do everything by himself. Aloma was three when she lost her parents, so she is as alone in the world as Orren. This, and their primal attraction to each other, is why she agreed to come live on this subsistence farm. But, blessed with musical talent on the piano, she isn't tied to the land in thought or action. She has ambitions for herself. She desires escape from the dreary and lonely life there, and she wishes to expand herself as a pianist. Enter the pastor in nearby Hansonville, who, at Aloma's behest, hires her to play for his church's services. He is single and, again, because Aloma implies it, thinks she is also. But these are not frivolous characters, and this is no salacious melodrama. ALL THE LIVING doesn't shy away from honest sexuality, but it isn't so much concerned with extreme acts of betrayal (erotic or otherwise) as with the subtler, internal struggles of men and women.
Morgan earned a master's degree in Theological Studies and puts it to good use by applying a vibrant undercoat of spiritual philosophy to her novel.Read more ›
The plot of this slim novel is easily described but it not so simple to explain what the author has done here. The prose is beautiful, unusual and almost poetic. The author's ability to cut to the heart of relationships will hold your interest until the last page. I read this book in a day and was surprised at how few events had actually occured but at how much the characters had been through emotionally.
The story, in brief, is that of orphaned Aloma who is raised by Nuns, has a relationship with Orren and returns with him to his family farm when his family is killed in a car accident. If you are expecting action or steamy romance, you will not find it here. Aloma and Orren may be living 'in sin'( and it does figure prominently in Aloma's mind as something she should be ashamed of), and there may be an 'other man' in the story, but the primary focus of the novel is not romance.
Aloma's bereavement is old and one that she is long used to. When we meet her and Orren he too has been bereaved but she cannot fathom his sense of loss or his mute grief at the death of his family. Never having a place of her own she struggles with his desperate need to cling to the family farm which is withering away before them.
This is a wonderfully well written book and I highly recommend it.
Aloma and Orren are very young, and the work of running the farm is brutal. Orren cannot afford the time to teach the inexperienced Aloma what she needs to know to help him, and Aloma is left to try to strip the floors, wash the walls, and try to make the old family home inhabitable. The piano there is unusable. Before long, these two inexperienced young people are at each other's throats. Aloma feels abandoned all day, while Orren feels that she does not appreciate his work. His suggestion that she practice the piano at a church in town leads to her meeting with a local preacher, Bell Johnson, a single man who is attracted to her and who represents a different way of life.
Within this simple framework, Morgan explores universal themes: one's dreams for the future vs. the brutal realities of the present, new life and the hopes it represents vs. death of loved ones, the feeling that God watches over all vs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful book the most beautiful and best book I have read in years. I can't say enough about itPublished 3 months ago by Mary F.
This was okay. The author has an incredible command of language--especially making use of rare words--however, there was very minimal plot development. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Les
Very slow! Well written but could not relate to lead character at sllPublished 13 months ago by Venice Mom
I read half and quit, as did most of the ladies in my book club. We all felt it was difficult to read due to the lack of stimulating plot, parentheses, and character development. Read morePublished 14 months ago by M. Lowenstein
I can't put it down. It's one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. It was recommended by members of another book club. I'm glad I chose it to read.Published 15 months ago by DeePhilly
Morgan creates terrific word pictures with her language. The story is disturbing, as it deals with the clash between aspirations and real life.Published 17 months ago by ms
While the prose in this book was, for lack of a better word, stunningly beautiful, the plot line itself was painfully slow and dull, with no real climax or denouement. Read morePublished 23 months ago by katie
This small novel is one of my favorites. I read it and ordered copies for my daughter and sisters. It is nothing earth shattering
so far as a story goes but is as well written... Read more