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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 ›
Morgan's use of the language is adventurous and, in several places, absolutely breathtaking. The dialogue is pitch perfect.
This book has garnered some buzz in the literary world, and it deserves more. Read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Morgan communicates eloquently through her communication-reluctant characters. She understands each completely, far more than they reveal of themselves, informing the reader of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sally Asante
This woman is a heck of a writer! She makes up words !!!! (Most of which I loved.) An unexpected glimpse into the mind of a "believer" from the rural South. True? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Danby
I've read this book four times, and each time I discover something new. C. E. Morgan has written a remarkable story with three real characters. I will read everything she writes.Published 3 months ago by john dooley
Main thing I got from the book was to be honest, sincere, and that the small things matter in a relationship. Not much to ponder about when you are finished with the book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jay
Beautiful book the most beautiful and best book I have read in years. I can't say enough about itPublished 9 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 14 months ago by Les
Very slow! Well written but could not relate to lead character at sllPublished 19 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 20 months ago by M. Lowenstein