From the author of Gap Creek-an international best-seller and winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award-comes the gripping story of two brothers struggling against each other and the confines of their mountain world in 1920s Appalachia.
The Powell brothers-Muir and Moody-are as different as Cain and Abel. Muir is an innocent, a shy young man with big dreams. Moody, the older and wilder brother-embittered by the death of his father, by years of fighting his mother, and by his jealousy of Muir's place in the family-takes to moonshine and gambling and turns his anger on his brother. Muir escapes by wandering, making his way around the country in attempts to find something-an occupation, a calling-to match his ambition.
Through it all, their mother, Ginny, tries to steer her boys right, all the while remembering her own losses: her husband (whose touch still haunts her), her youth, and the fiery sense of God that once ordered her world.
When Muir, in a drunken vision, decides that his purpose in life is to clear a space on a hill and build a stone church with his own hands, the consequences of his plan are far-reaching and irrevocable: a community threatens to tear itself apart, men die, and his family is forever changed. All that's left in the aftermath are the ghosts and the memories of a new man.
I can`t believe more people have not rated this book. Robert Morgan is one of the best living writers. He makes the mountain people of the 20`s breathe. I will never forget the characters in this novel.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Robert Morgan's Gap Creek won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2000 and became a New York Times bestseller. It was one of my top reads that year. Like the earlier book, This Rock is set in the mountains along the North Carolina–South Carolina border, but the events take place about twenty years later, during Prohibition. I picked up the book with high expectations.Muir and Moody Powell, both on the edge of manhood, are about as different as brothers can be. Muir dreams of building castles and preaching the gospel, while the older Moody likes rum running, gambling, and fighting. Their widowed mother, Ginny, is often at a loss as to how to raise her boys.The story is told alternately through the voices of Ginny and Muir and focuses on the ways in which the two boys try to make a mark in their small, poor world. The confines of their Appalachian community and the limits of the boys' worldly knowledge lead to painful failures and few, but emotional, successes. Muir's noble aspirations and intense hard work lead to dead ends. Moody's walk on the fast track to wealth and on the rough road to toughness leads to constant trouble. The boys don't understand each other, and their quarrels have heart-rending consequences.A strong theme is the importance of careful, steady and hard work. Other themes are that families are ultimately the source of support and unconditional love and that, despite the ugly prejudices and politics of the church, personal faith and strong values help those who look for answers.Unfortunately, the switch in point of view from Ginny to Muir and back again was sometimes odd—either I wanted to stick with the current POV or the switch was off chronologically. In fact, the chronology in general was confusing: At one point I thought a particular character had died years earlier, but then learned that an event related in the middle of the book occurred close to the time of that death. Thus I had to rethink much of the plot.Brief positive notes: I loved the details of the physical settings. The descriptions of manual labor—from farming to carpentry, stone masonry, and store clerking—were clear and sometimes poetic. The major characters were fully delineated, although others (for example, the boys' sisters) were little more than names. The dangers of rum running during Prohibition added historical interest and perspective.Do I recommend This Rock? I do. If you have read Gap Creek, then, despite its flaws, This Rock is a must read. The novel will appeal to those who like an Appalachian setting, fans of Morgan, and perhaps those who are interested in families and family dynamics.If you are new to Morgan, I recommend Gap Greek without reservations. If you liked the feeling, mood, and ambiance of Cold Mountain, then you'd be taken with Gap Creek.Note: Morgan's novel The Truest Pleasure is the first in this series of Carolina mountain novels. I haven't read it.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved