Cover image for The hinterlands : a mountain tale in three parts
The hinterlands : a mountain tale in three parts
Morgan, Robert, 1944-
Personal Author:
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Winston-Salem, N.C. : J.F. Blair, 1999.

Physical Description:
335 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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The Hinterlands is the story of a family who found, marked, and paved their way into America's eastern frontier. Unfolding in the voices of three generations of mountaineer storytellers who specialize in keeping listeners on the edge of their seats, this is fiction that plunks us down right into the thick of pioneer life. In 1772, an adventurous teenager named Petal ran off with a handsome homesteader on his way to the new frontier in Tennessee. Decades later, Petal spins a hair-raising tale for her grandchildren. She includes all the grittiest details of setting up housekeeping with what she carried from home on her back, of birthing her first baby while staving off a panther, of living in the middle of no where_with nary a known neighbor. In 1816, Petal's grandson Solomon and a starved pig named Sue tracked the best route down off the mountain to market. He tells his grandson of his panther, not forgetting to mention his run-ins with snakes and spiders, with thorny thickets and what was hidden within them. In 1845, Solomon's son David, inheritor of the family bent for roadbuilding, took on linking two mountains with a turnpike. Despite one mountain's mighty efforts to stop him, his feat marked the beginning of the wilderness's end. Based on the author's own family stories, The Hinterlands is both rollicking folk history and riveting adventure fiction. Robert Morgan's three gifted storytellers tell it like it was and with a vengeance.

Author Notes

Acclaimed author of best-seller "Gap Creek".

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In words plain and deep as the hills, Morgan tells a three-part tale about the Blue Ridge Mountains, covering a period from 1771 to 1845. He binds these tales into a richly textured family saga. An early settler leads his teenage bride into the mountains in search of the new frontier of Kentucky. An aging Petal Richards spins endless yarns to her grandchildren about the explorations of these gritty pioneers. In part two, Solomon, Petal's grandson, builds the first road through the forest. Solomon's son, David, builds the first mountain-to-mountain turnpike in 1845, costing the traveler in a wagon a dollar. David recalls trapping animals in the woods, confronting the Cherokee unarmed, and blasting solid rock with black powder to build roads. Rich in character and detail, this novel forebodes as well the ecological changes that civilization has brought to our wilderness. ~--Theresa Ducato

Publisher's Weekly Review

Morgan ( Green River ), a gifted poet as well as a fiction writer, aims for the tone of an Appalachian oral history in this ambitious novel whose origins are the stories told, over the years, by members of the writer's family, hailing from North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. The first of his three narrators here is Petal Jarvis, who in 1772 elopes over the ridge from her Carolina settlement with a homesteader. This tale, the strongest part of the book, marshals the keeping-house-against-the-elements charm of many an American backwoods saga. The second story, that of Petal's elderly grandson Solomon Richards narrating events of a day in 1816, unfolds rather more slowly; and the third, set another generation later, is briefer. Morgan achieves a fable-like quality in his imaginings, though readers may find occasional vignettes slow-moving and some of the up-country local color--and down-home dialogue--familiar. But there is comfort and humor in Morgan's evocation of country people trying to survive: ``You know, son, how we all grandify things, imagine that on any given day we will do some little thing that will become history, that we are acting out a grand role even going to the outhouse or draining a puddle.'' (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In a lively first-person narrative, Morgan, a poet and the author of two short story collections, tells of four generations of pioneers in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1772, Pearl flees west with a young stranger; while her husband is away, she must fend off a hungry panther that tries to climb down the chimney while she is giving birth to her first child. In 1816, grandson Solomon grasps an axe in one hand and a hungry sow's tail in the other and careens off down the mountain, blazing a trail for a tollroad. In 1845, his son David sets off to build a turnpike west, fighting both the elements and his co-workers. David muses, ``A good road is so tender, it seems to hurt.'' The narratives of this first novel are infused with a simple lyricism. By turns hair-raising and hilarious, these tales make for absorbing reading.-- David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.