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This Rock Hardcover – September 28, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1st edition (September 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565123034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565123038
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,054,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Morgan follows up his bestselling Gap Creek with another tale of the Carolina wilderness in the 1920s. Muir Powell is three years younger than his brother, Moody, but the two are light years apart in temperament and attitude. Muir is his widowed mother Ginny's clear favorite, a position he earns by being unselfishly supportive of the family's needs. A callow youth who dreams of building, he tries his hand at preaching, trapping and a variety of other occupations, only to fail miserably and return home in frustrated disgrace every time. Moody, who's wild and undisciplined, hardly works at all and spends his time in the company of bootleggers and prostitutes. Jealous of Muir's favored position in the household, he derides his younger brother's efforts to find his way and support the family. Told in a gentle, flowing prose that shifts unevenly between Muir's and Ginny's points of view, the novel maps out life in a remote, tradition-bound region. Underscoring all is the family's fundamentalist religion and their devotion to old-fashioned family values. Muir's capricious decision to build a church on the family land forces matters to a crisis that tests the family's faith and commitment to one another, and in the final chapters, Muir's discovery of his true calling sustains and validates their belief in the strength of love and the ties that bind. Although the novel suffers from overdetailing, episodic pacing and seemingly pointless anecdotal tangents that leave many loose ends dangling in the mountain breeze, it's an entirely pleasant read and a testimony to the power of faith and integrity in the face of life's severest hardships. (Sept. 28)Forecast: It's unlikely that sales of Morgan's latest will match Gap Creek totals Gap Creek was an Oprah selection and an international bestseller but This Rock is in much the same vein, so new and old fans should be satisfied.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Morgan here continues the story of the Powell family, begun in The Truest Pleasure (LJ 8/95) and continuing with the best-selling Gap Creek (LJ 9/1/99), an Oprah selection. Some 20 years after the events in Gap Creek, Muir and his ornery older brother, Moody, struggle with each other; with their widowed mother, Ginny; and with the rural Southern community where they live. Muir, not yet 20, is on a quest to find his life's work: does he have a true calling as a preacher? Ultimately, through the catalysts of two seemingly unrelated deaths, he conceives of a project that in turn reveals his life's true purpose. Though Morgan still pursues his favorite theme, the redeeming power of work, his new book is both more ambitious and more uneven than Gap Creek. Not a lightweight Bildungsroman, this novel instead illuminates the painful movement from boy to man. As such, it might not satisfy earlier Morgan readers, but libraries will definitely want this. Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

He is a good storyteller and teaches life's lessons well.
Betty Burks
Memorable characters, wonderful dialogue, he truly brings the Appalachian people and ways to life.
Babs85
Unfortunately, only after one-third of the way into the novel, I became bored.
Linda S. Metz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on November 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I must admit that Gap Creek was the first book by Robert Morgan that I have read. I became of a fan immediately. His story line is as multilayered as his characters. In This Rock, one brother, Muir, struggles to find himself. He seems to be heading for a life lived in the word and serving his God. The other brother, Moody, seems to do nothing more than a little bootlegging. Moody wants to lose himself. He suffers from some deep hurt we are never privy to. Robert Morgan takes these two characters and wraps a novel around them. Two brothers as different as hot and cold, living a basic life filled with the struggle to survive and yet their lives seem to be so much richer that ours.
Other characters, Hank and Julia from Gap Creek make an appearance. It was nice to see their progress. Ginny, Muir and Moody's mother is a strong woman left to get by on her own after her husband dies.
I won't give anymore away. The book is an interesting read. It appeals to the intellect and the heart. If you're looking for a techno thriller you better keep looking. This Rock isn't for you. If you're looking to be touched emotionally and spiritually, then you won't be disappointed.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I should confess right off that Robert Morgan is one of my favorite writers, with an authentic voice and the honesty to write unflinchingly about people living hard lives, struggling to survive. After reading Gap Creek, the story of a young southern woman struggling in a difficult marriage,I knew I'd buy anything else Morgan wrote. I'm happy to say this story of two brothers locked in a sibling rivalry, while far different from the plot of Gap Creek, doesn't disappoint. Muir and Moody Powell have been at odds nearly since birth. One is ambitious and hard-working and the other is drawn to trouble, gambling and drinking. Don't let my simple sketch of the bare outline of this book keep you from reading it. I assure you that Morgan's honest, unflinching writing and ability to make the lives of these southern men come alive will pull you into this book. A powerful book from a writer at the top of his form!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bohdan Kot on February 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I knowed this be a gud book (English teachers cringing, the bad American English and spelling is intentional). Robert Morgan, author of the bestseller "Gap Creek," transports us to a 1920s Appalachian Mountain town in "This Rock."

The story takes place over a three-year period and focuses on the polar-opposite Powell brothers, Muir and Moody. Muir is ambitious and quiet. Moody is an appropriately named, unstable character that runs moonshine and gambles.

Morgan uses the perspective of Muir and Ginny Powell, the brothers' widowed mother, to narrate the brothers' conflicts. Remarkable details are laid out for the reader to behold and enjoy like gems. Morgan paints the beautiful landscape of the mountains, a feast for the mind's eye. The drama echoes stronger due to Morgan's inclusion of mountain dialect. It's as if the author time-traveled to the locale and used the Edison gramophone to record the hillbilly speech.

The story builds nicely as Muir's decision to build a church atop the mountain has ripple effects throughout the community, most notably his brother Moody. "This Rock" is a page-turner illustrating the common and difficult aspects of 1920s Appalachia life. In fact, I bet after you've reached the last page, the cool morning dew will be lingering on your hands.

Bohdan Kot
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Crabtree on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
As you read this book you will be transported to the mountains. The vivid descriptions and colloquial dialogue caused me to care about the characters and their outcomes. I also love the way Morgan switches perspective. Some chapters are from the point of view of Muir. He is one of two brothers and the "Abel" character in a kind of Cain and Abel allegory. Moody is the "Cain" character, but the book doesn't exactly parallel the bible story. Other chapters are from the point of view of their mother, Ginny. I really felt for Muir and wanted him to succeed. One even begins to root for Moody toward the end. The last chapter concluded and tied together the many journeys the reader takes with the various characters in a poignant and satisfying way. The EPILOGUE, however, ends with a strange twist that was a downer for me. That's why I only gave 4 stars. I was hoping for a different ending, and a little confused by what Morgan wrote on the last few pages. Perhaps what makes it good fiction is that I'm still thinking about it. Our church is using this for a churchwide Book Club. There are many life lessons here concerning work ethic, confidence, being true to yourself and your family, and finding your true calling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Sykora on October 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
THIS ROCK was my first encounter with Robert Morgan. I had heard many great things about GAP CREEK so my book club decided THIS ROCK would be a great book for our next selection.
Unfortunately not many of us enjoyed it.
The main character is a farm boy named Muir. He has led a rough life with a bully for an older brother. His mother plays a significant role in his decision makings. He is beyond confused about what he wants to do with his life. Yet he makes many decision throughout the book to escape everyday life. Not all of his decisions are foolproof.
Moody, the older bully brother, is also a significant character. Muir appears to hate him on the outside. But from the inside I felt it was different. He looked up to Moody and cared for him greatly. Moody and Muir go through the book dealing with personal problems, and family problems.
The ending was not what I expected. I was not too happy with the abruptness of the finale. The book felt as if it was missing a true story line. There were many aspects of Muir's life discussed but not enough substance to really show the reader what you needed to see in order to feel for him. Something was missing. I just cannot put my finger on it.
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