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The Journey of August King by John Ehle

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This is one of the rare Appalachian novels that has been made into a Hollywood movie – in 1996 by Miramax. It is the second, chronologically, of seven historical novels by John Ehle (1925-2018) that together illuminate the history of Western North Carolina. The Land Breakers starts the series. The Time of Drums is the Civil War novel; followed by The Road, The Winter People, Lion on the Hearth, and finally Last One Home. He also published four other novels and six non-fiction books. John Ehle was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and served in the infantry during World War II. He then earned an undergraduate degree and a Masters from the University of North Carolina and joined their faculty from 1951-1963. He quit his job to join the campaign of Terry Sanford for North Carolina governor and then joined Governor Sanford’s staff. In that capacity he founded the North Carolina School for the Arts and the North Carolina Governor’s School, among the first such programs established that provided a model for similar subsequent efforts in almost every state. The Ford Foundation was so impressed with his work in North Carolina that they hired him to work nation-wide. He remained with them until he was able to devote himself entirely to his writing career. In 1967 he married the famed British actress, Rosemary Harris. They maintained homes in Winston-Salem and Penland, North Carolina, as well as in New York and London. Their daughter, Jennifer, is also an actress. The Journey of August King is both a geographical and a spiritual journey. August King is a farmer in his 40s who is walking through the mountains in 1810, returning from a long trip to market.  He slowly begins to realize that another person is making a parallel journey. She is Analees Williamsburg, a fifteen-year-old escaped slave. Thus begins his internal journal to decide whether to facilitate her escape or to turn her in for a reward.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Press53, a 2018 reprint of a 1971 release. 218 pages. Trade paperback