Few authors have so richly deserved to be catapulted from relative obscurity to a secure presence in the country's literary elite than Robert Morgan. And it was this book that did it. And it was Oprah Winfrey who gave Gap Creek the nudge that it needed to get the attention of the reading public. Robert Morgan loves to tell the story of the phone call he got from Oprah, and I love hearing it. Of course he didn't believe it really was her at first! Few authors have grown up in more humble circumstances. Morgan's parents did not own a car, but a bookmobile came to the church house near their small farm in Henderson County, North Carolina. He didn't have the money to go on the class trip to the Biltmore Mansion, so he had to stay by himself that day in his classroom. That is when he wrote his first story. He was discovered as a poet before Oprah became aware of his work. That is how he became a professor at Cornell University! Anyway, back to this book. The protagonist is Julie Harmon, a hard-working mountain girl who marries at 17 and moves down to the Gap Creek Valley below her mountain home at the end of the nineteenth century. This is the story of her marriage to Hank and the natural and human forces they must fend off to survive.
Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 2012. 356 pages. Trade paperback.