Set in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the century, Julie Harmon works hard and toils to support her family, often doing the work that nobody else wants to do. After her brother and father die, Julie and her family meet Hank, who proposes to Julie after only a week. Once married, Julie works hard and toils for Hank, who turns abusive after having lost his job. Under the constant threat of losing their home, the two try to make the best of their very simple life.
To say this book is dull and repetitive would be a kindness. There really wasn’t much of a plot to hold onto. While the book had some engaging moments, particularly when Morgan would describe in excruciating detail the slaughter of hogs and rendering of lard, I found most of the book to be an endless drone. Both Julie and Hank are the most stale, predictable and two-dimensional characters I have come across. There was no life, no spark, no spirit, nothing to engage me in their lives or care about their circumstances. Most of the personality went to the tertiary characters. Julie’s narration is very forced and clunky. I think Morgan had some issues trying to speak through a female character. Whether that is part of the author’s narration scheme or not, I don’t know. I would recommend Willa Cather’s My Antonia if you’re looking for a book on a similar topic and time period.