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The people in this small "community" are fighting the elements in a very basic way but also seem to have moments of joy in nature. There is a struggle here to create a community--a struggle against a difficult and unyielding mountain land unfriendly to crops; a struggle against the elements themselves; a struggle against wild animals who frequently attack and steal or injure their precious food animals and potential profit or injure them personally; a struggle to create a sense of community when not all the people in the valley have the same aims or goals, some work from dawn to dusk as hard as their bodies will allow while others fritter away the day watching their children do minor work.
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And then there are opposing visions for the future. So much to battle in the s when nothing at all is secure.
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All in all, a wonderful book, written with what seems to be a natural idiom of the place and time. View all 3 comments. The New York Review Book group chose this story originally written by John Ehle in to be republished in calling it an important book that broke fresh ground and opened a new world for Southern and Appalachian fiction.
Ehle , with ancestry traceable to one of the first three families to settle in the untamed western mountains of North Carolina certainly seems to have a good understanding of the struggles of those first brave souls who took up residence there. This, the first book of sev The New York Review Book group chose this story originally written by John Ehle in to be republished in calling it an important book that broke fresh ground and opened a new world for Southern and Appalachian fiction.
This, the first book of seven in The Mountain Series, tells the story of a young Irish immigrant couple Mooney and Imy, who after finishing their indentured servitude, wander into a raggedy settlement and decide to put down roots. I've often said I would have embraced a kinder gentler time, well this certainly was not it!!
Gardening and raising a few farm animals can be a fun avocation to share with the Grandkids, but when your survival depends on what you harvest it's a whole different ballgame. While working from dawn to dusk these folk barely had time to bury their dead, which without medicine and such they did with some regularity.
There are some really great characters here, who represent a group of inspirational people, those who had the courage to first break the land, in a time where crops and livestock were lifeblood and drought, pestilence, and wolves were literally either at or threatening to be at the door. I found it maybe just slightly long on agriculture, chores, and hunting, and perhaps a bit short on emotional issues, which quite seriously they really didn't have the luxury of time to dwell upon. Every once in a while we should read something that makes us better appreciate the lives of those who have gone before us!!
View all 4 comments. Sep 18, Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing Shelves: I absolutely loved this book. Finished the story, read the epilogue, and stopped only after reading all the testimonials on the back cover. It is a saga full of adventure and made interesting by all of the adversity faced by pioneers, homesteaders, land breakers. Powerful determined people with no fall back route. Either conquer the land or die by failure. It is the history of America spotlighted in just one particular region, but it is also the great universal - the dominating s I absolutely loved this book.
It is the history of America spotlighted in just one particular region, but it is also the great universal - the dominating spirit of our ancestors. View all 10 comments.
Jan 12, Jacob rated it it was amazing Shelves: I doubt anyone will bother reading my reviews, but if they do, I imagine they'll think I never read a book I didn't love based on my last batch. Regardless, I'm sincere when I say that The Land Breakers is one of the most beautiful yet plainly-written novels I've ever read. I feel like I learned more about American history from reading this book than I have gained from years of history classes, and quite honestly, I think I gained more insight into the true meaning of living off the land than I I doubt anyone will bother reading my reviews, but if they do, I imagine they'll think I never read a book I didn't love based on my last batch.
I feel like I learned more about American history from reading this book than I have gained from years of history classes, and quite honestly, I think I gained more insight into the true meaning of living off the land than I ever did trying to muddle through Thoreau. There are so many highlights that it's hard to single one out, but I must say that the epic bear hunt near the end moved me to tears. Apr 25, Jeanette rated it liked it.
Dialect of language and stark, yet practical, sensibilities of the early Western N. Carolina settlers during the 's center the tones of this tale. It's filled with context of rawest nature and seasons within the wild valley before the previously untilled flats and slope. It follows, basically, the 3 separate original families of settlers over a period of their earliest introduction to their Appalachian working homestead years.
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Men, women and children in their elemental sense of survival and Dialect of language and stark, yet practical, sensibilities of the early Western N. Men, women and children in their elemental sense of survival and production for sustenance. And hopefully an improvement from their entire poverty. The bonding and the methods of material success or failure!
Every action of practical application and relationship for work and association set in fresh country and physical life mode. I would have given it another star for its pure beauty, if the story itself was a little less difficult to follow. Well worth the read. If some of the more obscure characters were developed I would have given it a 4.
For practical day to day actions and struggles in every physical sense of "daily doing" it is a 5. View all 7 comments. Feb 28, April rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Land Breakers is a great American novel, way beyond anything most New York literary icons have produced. And that is only one of several remarkable novels, though the one a reader new to Ehle should begin with. This novel has great characters, great stories, and the historical setting is a story in itself. When you finish the book, you will feel like any of the characters might pass by, and you'd just strike up a conversation.
In fact, I've been keeping my eyes open. I intend to read the series and anything else by Ehle I can get my hands on. Jul 02, Darren O'keefe rated it it was amazing. This a profound book, beautifully written. The themes of humanity, community, life and it's ultimate meaning are richly explored in vivid prose against the harsh, savage yet sublime backdrop of the mountains of frontier America. Like Cormac McCarthy, the author often defies the rigid rules of English that restrict so many authors. This may be dizzying for limited minds, but don't let the philistines put you off. This is a rare treat.
Replete with insight into the human condition and the laws of n This a profound book, beautifully written. Replete with insight into the human condition and the laws of nature, this book also proffers myriad accounts of lost traditions of domestic and agricultural endeavour, all portrayed through a variety of well-written characters. I'm puzzled at the positive reviews It was not the best, however, and he could not command the sort of respect he wanted in I'm puzzled at the positive reviews It was not the best, however, and he could not command the sort of respect he wanted in a place where other men had a right to as much respect as he, so he made plans to leave there even before he knew in any clear thought that he would leave.
You don't OWN a clear thought! I picked this up at Salvation Army for a buck. Looked on GR and congratulated myself that Id found a winner. The story starts in and is about the first white settlers in North Carolina. And for those of you who care, the book is not clean either. Its not so much "how to settle the hills " as "who can I bed in the hills when there's no one here Don't waste your time. View all 16 comments. A people of perseverance. I don't think you could find a book with harder working individuals. This is a great account of the founding of a settlement in the southern mountains.
The writing is perfect and the story is fascinating. It makes you think about all the obstacles these "land breakers" endured and survived. Favorite quote that sums up the book for me, "It was not that the family was making a machine that they could use; the family was the machine. The family and the clearing and the cr A people of perseverance. The family and the clearing and the crops and the stock and the tools were part of the same thing. The family and the place were the same thing and could not be separated one from the other.
Up to the moment I opened to the first of this book, I was a stranger to John Ehle. Where have I been? Not only have I just completed reading a fantastic novel, but I have found that there is more of the story waiting for me to discover. This is book 1 in the so-called "Mountain Novels". I am anxious to begin the next in the series, "The Road". This is a tale of how the mountains of North Carolina came to be settled. It's the story of a young couple who finally, after a few years of wandering, c Up to the moment I opened to the first of this book, I was a stranger to John Ehle. It's the story of a young couple who finally, after a few years of wandering, come to a valley in the mountains.
The year is They are first to settle in this remote location. Others soon follow, but not all is pastoral and nature is not kind at times. The first year, Mooney Wright, 21, loses his young wife. During his grieving, he questions his willingness to continue his efforts to carve out a life in such a hostile place. Another family arrives, one with all daughters.
He begins to have feelings for the oldest, the innocent year-old, Pearlamina. Mina is the Eve-like symbol. Here in this seeming paradise, Mooney must make a choice for there is another woman he also had seen move into the valley. You'll have to read the book to follow that plot line. But, in the end, the book is about dreams and new beginnings. It is also about survival, where an indifferent god of nature can strike down anyone without reason or warning.
One could compare this novel to a typical pioneer story of the west. The only difference is that in , the frontier was the Appalachian Mountains. From these early settlers, we have the history of the stereotypical "mountain men", fiddling the old Scots-Irish tunes we can still hear today. I think books like this tickle a spot that nowadays post-apocalypse and zombies tickles - the kind of books that let you imagine your own life in a "new" spot, one without any society to speak of, free to do what you want to do, with a chance to "prove yourself" a hunt for self-reliance? The Land Breakers is the story of a new, small, faraway American settlement in the mountains of the s.
Over a few years the reader follows the new settlers in the harsh conditions, as they try and make a l I think books like this tickle a spot that nowadays post-apocalypse and zombies tickles - the kind of books that let you imagine your own life in a "new" spot, one without any society to speak of, free to do what you want to do, with a chance to "prove yourself" a hunt for self-reliance?
Over a few years the reader follows the new settlers in the harsh conditions, as they try and make a living off the new land. All of them are trying to start a new life, but the harsh conditions take and take and rarely give. Bears, panthers, snakes and diseases attack the settlers and take their stock, yet the settlers carry on. The narrator's language is direct, reminding me of Blood Meridian or Butcher's Crossing, often echoing the language of the book's inhabitants: Listen to them fly?
Besides all the harshness, there's a peculiar brand of American optimism here - the kind that says "I need to start something new " and "there is no place for me in the old and established" again: It makes for great reading. A story about overcoming hardship; of defeating your failures and moving forward. Sep 01, Diane rated it it was amazing. First released in The Land Breakers spans from to when the first settlers went beyond Morgantown, West Virginia to homestead in the Appalachian Mountains. Mooney Wright was the first to break ground to start a farm and a variety of others followed.
Tinkler Harrison comes with his family. Tinkler has his own ideas for the settlement all the way down to its name Harrisonville. In his vision the only settlers that will be First released in The Land Breakers spans from to when the first settlers went beyond Morgantown, West Virginia to homestead in the Appalachian Mountains. In his vision the only settlers that will be allowed in the area have to meet his standards. There will be no riff raff or deadbeats in Harrisonville.
Many others follow despite the hardships. This unit of people are united in one goal, to keep their homes and to build something out of this wilderness. They come close to losing everything but they stick with it with an eye toward the future. The Land Breakers truly depicts the reality of settling this country.
Some parts are almost poetic in their description of the beauty of the land. In other chapters the wonder in the birth of twin lambs and the joy a newly cleared field brings can be felt. There is also the crushing disappointment when bears or wolves kill some of the stock and the ongoing fight to prevent that from happening. Mooney and Ima Wright have recently finished their indentured servitude in Virginia, and travel south in search of a place to make their own. The year is , and while a war rages up north, Mooney and Ima - and soon other settlers - try to carve out a life in an uninhabited Appalachian valley.
This book made me feel like a lazy piece of shit. The amount of work these people did just to have food on the table in the morning seems like more work I do in a week. Yet it's not all drudgery - as more Mooney and Ima Wright have recently finished their indentured servitude in Virginia, and travel south in search of a place to make their own.
Yet it's not all drudgery - as more people arrive and settle, a tentative community forms, with romances, rivalries, and many a sharing of a jug of spirits.
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Events that might seem minor in another story - a bear hunt, a cattle drive - take on epic proportions, as the life of these people and this tiny settlement hinges on success or failure. The characters are well-drawn; the prose, while simple in style, achieves small moments of beauty and insight that shine like diamonds.
This is the first in a series of seven books. If the others are as good as this one - and not too pricey to track down, as they're pretty much all out of print - I'll have a lot to read and enjoy in the years to come. Aug 01, Christine Underdown rated it it was amazing. This book completely changed my view of what it means to start over. It has made me think a lot on how prosperous we truly are and who we have to thank for it.
Oct 23, Chuck LoPresti rated it it was amazing. Johnny Cash Part 4. Johnny Cash Part 3 "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. Johnny Cash Part 2. Johnny Cash Part 1. Posted by Anthony at 1: What have you done for me Lately.
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