262 of 275 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 1999
This is a novel about a very poor young couple living in the Carolina mountains after the Civil War and their hard, hard lives. The work of day to day living back then was mind-boggling! The characters go through many trials and tribulations - fire, flood, extreme poverty, deaths of loved through and clean up after a flood; childbirth. This book reminded me of the book "Christy" and "Strangers in the Forest". Very realistic, very well written, amazing to us modern day folk. I only wish it had been longer, I hope there is a sequel featuring the young couple.
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2000
Gap Creek is a story of growing up, letting go, facing hard adversity, and overcoming loss. The life Julie and Hank lived was common at the turn of the century in 1900. When my relatives were young, their families had a smoke house, lived off the food from the garden, canned food for the winter, washed and boiled their clothes, and many other ways of life this book brought alive to me. It gave me a true appreciation for my ancestors' struggle just to maintain daily existence. Gap Creek teaches us a lesson too......hard work, faith, and endurance can see us through any hardship, just as Julie and Hank learn in the end. The book was well written.....Morgan's descriptive style made me either hungry, or wanting a cup of coffee just by the way his writing brought the smells to life! I thought the book was a very accurate depiction of Appalachian life in the late 1800's. I am so glad I lived through this turn of the century instead of that one! Julie's strength is to be admired. All in all, a very enjoyable read
193 of 216 people found the following review helpful
This book was OK. Based on the recommendation of the book in "what we're reading" on this site, I had it on the pile of books "to read sometime" by my nightstand when Oprah chose it (and being a big Oprah fan, I immediately read it). One positive thing is that the heroine, Julie, is extremely likeable. However, there were plot elements that didn't make sense to me (if she is such a hard, tough, nononsense person, then how does she make the silly mistake that seems to trigger a chain of ruin in her and her husband's lives?) and the litany of one disaster after another was a little hard to take. Another plus was the detail in which farm work is described (very realistic if you've ever seen a hog butchered, by the way, or cleaned a turkey yourself). However, the only character that seemed to have any subtlety was the the heroine. Her husband, mother-in-law, and sisters are all flat characters that seem to have only one major character trait (negative) a piece. I didn't see what the point of the marital infidently scene was, since it doesn't contribute additional information to the characterization of the husband or the heroine and it doesn't seem to play any role in the plot (which is pretty one-toned, if you asked me). The very limited character development in this book "didn't bring me anything but down," sadly: Julie is a hard worker when we meet her and that doesn't change, but every time she has a moment of happiness, it's crushed. Nonetheless, these experiences don't seem to have any effect on her.
In short, the book is OK and I did read it all the way to the end, but I'm not sure it really rated the bestseller status that Oprah's selection is sure to give it. I'll have to read Oprah's website and find out why she selected it.
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2000
Well-written, great details about lifestyles of the time period. Great imagery. However, it was your typical grim hard-knock-life depiction of life in Southern Appalachia. It's not a feel-good story, actually it's quite depressing. It gives us insight into the difficulties that we will never suffer, and fills one with gratitude and thankfulness that this is not MY life.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1999
The book is very well written, with authentic (yet non-distracting) language of the location and era. The descriptions of the environment and day to day tasks are vivid.
Morgan does a good job creating "real" people, with with real frailties, real fears, & real joys. The characters are relatively young at the beginning of the story, and it is satisfying to see them use their (mostly tragic) experiences to grow into mature, self-assured adults.
Having grown-up in this area of North Carolina myself, I can say Morgan has quite a talent for capturing the essence of the place. The smallest details are there--the language, commonly heard first-names, typical religious services, daily tasks, the weather--everything that makes it what it is.
69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2000
This story of a young couple's hardships in the turn-of-the-century Appalachians gave me appreciation for our modern conveniences. I found myself yearning, however, for the honest hard work and satisfaction of living off the land. Morgan's style was crude at times--maybe intentionally--but I've read other novels that captured that same gritty character with a bit more passion. When Julie's newlywed sister comes to visit, for example, Morgan describes their laughter in every other paragraph. I got the point after the first two times. He could have plumbed the emotion and history with more feeling and depth...or maybe just more writing elbow-grease. But let's face it: this book works its way under your skin, demanding attention, or at least a reaction. Julie and Hank's relationship seems devoted, but more guarded than modern relationships. In the end, I enjoyed the coming together of the family, even through tragedy. The story had a message of hope, asking us to love others more than ourselves. Through its simple beauty and spartan writing, Gap Creek eventually made its way into my heart.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2000
First, congratulations Mr. Morgan, you've made it! You're at the top of your career now, and it'll only get better (especially sales!). Great book...I read this 325 page book in 2 days and this is quick reading, but very heavy too. You will experience life of very poor folks living in the S.C. mountains and like Oprah says "you'll be glad you live in this day and age" after you read this. As in all of the Oprah picks, you have the opportunity to live in another world, another lifetime. Morgan's descriptions allow you to enter their world effectively and now I can't wait to read his other books...A great read, will be easy, quick reading...and very memorable.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2000
Like all of her other Book List picks, Oprah has chosen a masterfully written book on the adversity faced by Julie Edwards, a 17 year old bride and mother to be living in the valley of Gap Creek, SC. The book describes the tough life faced by Julie and her husband Hank, as they face poverty (true poverty), floods, death and other trials of Appalachian living. Yes, there is repetition in the description of the meals, in her cleaning, and in her and Hanks daily lives, but that's to reinforce what Julie's reality is: There are no diversions, that is her life! Day after day of cooking, cleaning, working and just existing. You get exhausted and irritated just reading about it, because Julie is exhausted and irritated by living it!
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2000
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Julie Harmon will become one of the great heroines in literary history. The story takes place in 1899 to 1900 in the mountains of North Carolina. With a father with lung disease, Julie and her sisters must work the land for the family to survive. Julie is unlike any other young woman of the times - she has a desire to meet and marry a nice young man. After witnessing the agonizing death of her brother and suffering the hardships of being the "man" and essentially the leader of the family, Julie finally marries, leaves her family and moves with her husband down the mountain to Gap Creek. The young couple face numerous obstacles, challenges and hardships during their first year of marriage. This is her story. A great read and I heartily recommend it. If you like this, you may want to try THE TRUEST PLEASURE and THE MOUNTAINS WONT REMEMBER US, also by Robert Morgan.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2000
I've read the reviews of Gap Creek that have been posted to date, and like any worthwhile book it seems to have a mixed following. I am from a part of South Carolina very close to Caesar's Head, and, as our power goes out semi-regularly, I can identify with both his descriptions of the mountains' beauty and the work involved in a non-mechanized lifestyle. Morgan portrays the area and the time period realistically and vividly, but he does not attempt to sensationalize either his subject or his characters. He depicts Southerners as strong, self-reliant people with compassion and insight, a welcome change from the usual "ignorant redneck hick" stereotype that has pervaded literature in the past. I am very glad that Oprah chose this book for her club because I feel it represents the South, and particularly the Appalachian culture, in a positive light...but it does not idealize it, either. I found this novel deceptively simple; it is very easy to miss its subtle power if one attempts to skim the pages. This is not particularly light reading...if you want an "easy read," get a comic book. This is an eye-opening account of a life hewn out of the wilderness, of humanity's fragility, and of the power of faith. If you take the time to absorb Morgan's message, you will never forget this book.