This Rock by Robert Morgan tells the struggle of a family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Sum It Up:
Powell brothers, Moody and Muir, faceoff in a struggle to become men without a father. Ginny, their widowed mother, pushes younger brother, Muir, harder to work on the farm. Ambitious, Muir wants to take his life another step and achieve something monumental.
On the other hand, Ginny waits for Moody to sober up from his wild bootlegging nights before she bothers him. Moody and Muir argue and fight to the point Moody burns down a house Muir attempts to build in the beginning of the book.
After the deaths of her oldest daughter and husband, Ginny continues to struggle with widowhood and dedicates herself to the care of her family.
As Moody attempts to change near the end and Muir journeys to discover his purpose, This Rock explodes to show what one brother will do for the other no matter the cost.
Photo taken during a trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I gave the book four stars out of five. Morgan’s writing reads with beautiful prose-poetry of nature and how people work. With the intimate and down-in-the-dirt farm imagery similar to poet Josephine Dickinson’s Silence Fell, Morgan weaves imagery and work into a magnificent blue sky of his own.
In the few scenes when there was action, you were a part of it. You wanted to watch and try to get Muir and Moody to get along.
Past reviews describe the book as gritty. When it comes to it, the farm, the bootlegging, the church and the ending all capture that grit and dirt. Morgan does a great job making the reader grit his or her teeth while reading intense scenes, such as the moment Moody holds a knife against Muir or when Ginny finds Moody all beat up.
Ginny is a great character. One of the best chapters Morgan writes is when she thinks about her widowhood. She says the loved dead always walk with you.
The downside of This Rock was Morgan did not fully develop his characters other than Ginny and Muir. As I wrote in my previous post, I expected the book the read from Muir and Moody’s point-of-view. Moody was a shadow at times, and I wanted to enter Chesnut Springs, where the bootleggers lived. I wanted to see the action he experienced in Chesnut Springs.
Peg Early – a character mentioned throughout the book, but seen one time – could have been more fleshed out had Morgan wanted to focus more on the relationship between the brothers. The book left the disconnection between brothers at points.
What kept me from a 5-star rating was the end of This Rock. Maybe Morgan wanted a disconnected ending. A lot was left unresolved. It didn’t make sense. The only theme the end carried with the book was grit.
But, I will read Robert Morgan again.
“Southern poets are still writing narrative poems, poems in forms, dramatic poems.” ~ Author and Poet, Robert Morgan
Words and Photos by Rebecca T. Dickinson
Note to Readers: Working to return to regular blog schedule this week. Thurspiration will return. Apologies work, toddler and family have kept this blogger busy.
- Days of Our Reading Lives: This Rock, Part I (rebeccatdickinson.com)