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Walking to Gatlinburg: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307450678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307450678
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,886,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Civil War odyssey in the tradition of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Olmstead's Coal Black Horse, Mosher's latest (after On Kingdom Mountain), about a Vermont teenager's harrowing journey south to find his missing-in-action brother, is old-fashioned in the best sense of the word. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Kinneson goes in search of his older brother, Pilgrim, a Union soldier reported MIA at Gettysburg. But first, Morgan accidentally causes the death of a runaway slave he was leading to safety in Canada. In the course of tracking down his missing brother, Morgan is pursued by slave catchers, accompanies an elephant on an Erie Canal showboat, visits the battlefield at Gettysburg, meets an escaped slave who turns out to be the dead slave's granddaughter, and gets wounded during a mountain feud before learning of Pilgrim's fate. Complicating matters is a rune stone the dead slave left to Morgan, which could compromise the security of the Underground Railroad if the slave catchers get their hands on it. The story of Morgan's rite-of-passage through an American arcadia despoiled by war and slavery is an engrossing tale with mass appeal. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this haunting and hallucinatory novel, a young man named Morgan Kinneson trods through the nightmarish landscape of late Civil War–era America. The impetus for his venture is twofold: to find his brother, Pilgrim, who has been missing since the Battle at Gettysburg and to avenge the lynching of an escaped slave who was in his care as the conductor of one of the final legs of the Underground Railroad. Morgan’s trek turns into a kind of Apocalypse Now journey into the madness of war, but here the heart of darkness is a green-goggled slave breeder and his hired quartet of lunatic murderers, who also happen to be among the novel’s most compelling (though sadly underexamined) characters. These madmen flip-flop cat-and-mouse roles with Morgan as his quest becomes as much about bloodily ridding the earth of their presence as it is about finding his brother. Historical realism this isn’t but it is a violent, often puzzling picaresque with an invigorating take on the Underground Railroad and an unsettling vision of an America despoiled by the War between the States. --Ian Chipman

Customer Reviews

If you're looking for Civil War historical fiction, this is not the book.
KATHI
The whole book ended up being filled with what seemed to be too many unrealistic events.
N. Krumpe
It's a quest tale, but also one of family ties, brotherly love, and also young love.
Frank J. Konopka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By KATHI on March 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you're looking for Civil War historical fiction, this is not the book. It mentions some major players in the war, wraps some of the plot geographically around some of the battles, and follows the North-South Underground Railroad route. In fact the strongest connection to the Civil War is the main character's journey along the Railroad and his initial connection to it that led to a runaway slave's murder.

This murder leads Morgan Kinneson on a search to find his brother, Pilgrim, who may have died in the battle of Gettysburg, the year before the book takes place(1864). On Morgan's journey, he meets many people, one of which he falls in love. He also meets fantastical things like an elephant who seems to know the enemy. Along the way, Morgan is also being pursued by the murderers of Jesse, the runaway slave. This makes for an exciting chase to the finish.

While the story is outlandish at times, it is a fun read if your expectations change from wanting a good historical to wanting a good story well told.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on April 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mr. Mosher's writing is superb and from the outset he captures the flowery and distinctive language of mid-nineteenth century America. He also takes an engaging young Vermonter - Morgan Kennison of Kingdoam County, Vermont - and sends him on his long walk from Vermont to Tennessee to find his brother who had been given up for dead at Gettysburg. Surprisingly, the Civil War is tangential to the book, although the Underground Railroad, sets the course for Morgan to follow south.

The book is framed as Morgan's Odyssey, or a less dreary Cold Mountain. Along the way he meets up with many characters, many of whom are interesting and several amusing. Some were fantastical and those detracted from the cast. To add tension and moral conflict he is followed by escaped convicts who want some things they believe he has, including an escaped slave woman. As he goes he must fend them off which leads to his moral "crisis" which really wasn't much. The plot was the journey itself and there many many unlikely coincidental meetings along the way.

The novel was confusing. There were serious moments of violence and killing (and one sexually grotesque scene) followed by light-hearted and frivolous ones. There were dark characters and cartoon-like characters. It dipped into fantastical moments and then attempted to graphically show the evils of slavery. The incongruous and inconsistent yarns spun on the southward journey leave the reader unsure whether this book was a romp or an attempt at anti-war fiction. If Mr. Mosher had picked one primary flavor, it could have been great because the writing is that good.

The excellent writing carried it to mediocrity. There were several scenes that were excellent, but the inconsistent nature brought the book as a whole down. There were a few great characters interspersed among fantasy ones and completely unrealistic encounters, albeit brief, with Lincoln and Lee. This book cried out for some serious editing.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A beautiful runaway slave girl. Her small brother, tortured for his secrets. A young man searching for his older brother through the chaos of war. And a band of psychopathic killers terrorizing the land with violence and death. It is 1864 and the War Between the States rages on in America, north against south, brother against brother. And among the fringe dwellers of the war are the murderous miscreants who seek to destroy the Underground Railroad, men like Doctor Surgeon, Prophet Floyd, a mad preacher, Steptoe, a necrophiliac actor and the murderous minstrel Ludie Too. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Kinneson leaves Vermont to find his older brother, Pilgrim, a physician for the Union Army. First Morgan is tasked with the security of Jesse Moses, an old man meant to escape via the Railroad.

Morgan makes a fatal misjudgment and Jesse pays the ultimate price. The killers are after Jesse's runs stone, but the old man has thwarted his murderers at the end of his life, passing the marked stone to Morgan. Now Morgan is the target, his fate sung by a mad minstrel as the boy realizes the magnitude of his mistake and the danger that faces him. Undeterred, Morgan continues his journey through the Great Smoky Mountains, harassed and tormented by the killers who seem to anticipate his every move. Following the etchings on the stone that mark the path to freedom for fleeing slaves, Morgan treads through scenes of battlefield carnage, encounters the idiosyncratic souls that inhabit the wild mountains and falls in love with Slidell, the slave girl desperate to save her brother. Her flight becomes Morgan's as he gathers wit and ammunition, facing extinction in the lair of the Devil as, time after time, he faces the murderers who would destroy the route to freedom.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By choiceweb0pen0 VINE VOICE on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like other readers, I had hoped Walking to Gatlinburg to have more to do with the Civl War, since the novel was mislabeled as having at least something to do with it. I at least knew that Gatlinburg had little to do with the war, which should be at least one clue for readers. On the whole I enjoy historical novels and do love the nineteenth century, but do have at least some expectations to carry me through the novel. I would expect them to be mostly accurate and researched, though don't need historical facts, figures, and details waved in my face. I usually don't expect historical figures to meet main characters, especially when it has no point to aid the plot. Unfortunately It ends up feeling like Forrest Gump, a lazy way to remind readers that, hey, the novel isn't set in the present day.

Honestly though if a novel is well written, with engaging characters, and well made plot, I'm willing to put up with a lot. I have to say though that Walking to Gatlinburg is lacking on all three accounts. We do get a lot of details about the main character Morgan, being raised in the Vermont wilderness that of course set up why he will be able to wonder the country with little trouble. Yet most of the characters are fairly wooden, there to fill the scenery and to either aid or impede Morgan's progress in looking for his brother. I have to agree with other reviewers, after even a few chapters, it feels like the character is walking (or riding an elephant) with the scene and random characters doing all the work in a way that calls attention to itself.

In a bad way, it ultimately reminds me of So Brave, Young, and Handsome [SO BRAVE YOUNG & HANDSOME] [Paperback], which also is a historical episodic journey with similar issues. If you want an easy, non taxing read, Mosher's book might be for you, but for anyone looking for a compelling historical novel, look elsewhere.
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