The Truest Pleasure

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Overview

Though the time and place of The Truest Pleasure are as remote from contemporary American life as mountains are from strip malls, its illumination of the tantalizing nature of marriage is timeless and universal. Ginny Peace marries Tom Powell at the turn of the century (after her family has given up on her ever marrying), and Tom moves in to work Ginny's family's isolated mountain farm. Truth be known - and they both know it - their marriage is mutually beneficial in purely practical terms. Tom wants land to call...
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The Truest Pleasure

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Overview

Though the time and place of The Truest Pleasure are as remote from contemporary American life as mountains are from strip malls, its illumination of the tantalizing nature of marriage is timeless and universal. Ginny Peace marries Tom Powell at the turn of the century (after her family has given up on her ever marrying), and Tom moves in to work Ginny's family's isolated mountain farm. Truth be known - and they both know it - their marriage is mutually beneficial in purely practical terms. Tom wants land to call his own. Ginny knows she can't manage her aging father's farm by herself. There is also mutual attraction, and indeed their "loving" is deeply gratifying. What keeps getting in the way of it, however, are their obsessions. Tom's is easy to understand: he's a workaholic who hoards time and money. Ginny's is less predictable: she's a dedicated "holy roller," blissfully transported by Pentecostal preaching. That she speaks "in tongues," that she is "saved," seem to her a blessing and to Tom a disgrace. Theirs is a civil war of its own. But it's not until Ginny's adversary and husband lies unconscious and at the mercy of a disease for which the mountain doctor has no cure that she realizes what her truest pleasure has been.

A new novel by the acclaimed author of The Hinterlands. Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century--after her family has given up on her ever marrying--narrates the story of their life together on her father's farm in western North Carolina.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Book Review
A novel that lives on every page....the book is astonishing.
Washington Post Book World
Morgan's simple, eloquent language grounds the story in a tough farm life, his language pulses with poetry.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eloquent, wise and heartbreaking, Morgan's second novel (after The Hinterlands) offers insightful truths about family life and marital relationships through the twangy voice of narrator Ginny Peace, who lives in North Carolina mountain country during the first half of this century. Hill people like Ginny and her family endure dawn-to-dusk labor on the farm and offer thanks for simple pleasures. But Ginny needs another dimension: attending Pentecostal revival meetings where she is moved to speak in tongues is the only way she can satisfy her craving for transcendence. Marriage to hardworking but taciturn Tom Powell and the birth of several children fulfills Ginny for a time, but the intoxicating joy of being ``cleansed by the Spirit'' lures her again and brings an irrevocable rift with Tom, who despises such uncontrolled behavior. They continue to work side by side while their marriage dissolves in misunderstanding, resentment and spite, until a crisis finally helps Ginny understand the dimensions of their mutual love. Morgan's touch in this novel is deft and assured. Rarely has the experience of religious ecstasy been described with such poetic intensity and lack of condescension. In addition, he combines a keen observation of the natural world with a bone-deep knowledge of the traditions and cyclical rites of country life. Homely scenes of domesticity, with bickering born of family tensions and jealousies, are given depth by episodes distinctive of Appalachian culture. The reader is astonished when, after this somewhat desultory recital of the practical details of farm labor and household routine, the action suddenly accelerates into one dramatic, suspenseful scene after another. Ginny becomes a heroic figure: indefatigable, burning with duty born of desperate hope and, finally, struck by a tragic epiphany. This story of unassuming people striving for goodness but alienated from each other by differences in personality and perception of the world cannot fail to pierce the reader with the same poignant, ironic insight Ginny achieves.
Library Journal
This book by award-winning poet and novelist Morgan (The Hinterlands) focuses on the marriage of Ginny and Tom, a marriage rich in contrasts. The most significant difference is a source of constant irritation: Ginny is drawn to the ecstasies of Pentecostal worship, of which Tom, a workaholic, disapproves thoroughly. While this central difference precipitates many angry moments, the marriage endures such traumas as a child's death, backbreaking labors, and illnesses that have since been quelled. Narrated by Ginny and set among the Blue Ridge mountains in western North Carolina in the early 20th century, this novel is enhanced by Morgan's fine descriptions. Perhaps not surprisingly for a native of the area, he deftly represents mountain speech and Appalachian folkways. -- Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
George Needham
Ginny and Tom, who live in the North Carolina mountains at the turn of the century, marry for mutual convenience: she needs someone to manage her aging father's extensive properties, and he has a visceral need to farm land he can eventually call his own. Love grows as they strive to understand and respect one another. The major obstacle in their path is their difference over religion. Ginny is Pentecostal, a "holy roller" who speaks in tongues, while Tom's religion amounts to hard work and plenty of it. He so distrusts the religious frenzy of the revivals that he prevents Ginny from taking their children to the camp meetings. Morgan has succeeded in a most difficult endeavor, writing a thoroughly entertaining and even moving novel about a time, place, and people that most contemporary Americans know only as cartoons. He has managed to craft this novel without any hillbilly stereotypes or Erskine Caldwell style sensationalism, depending instead on his characters' decency and humanity to carry the story. Outstanding.
Richard Bausch
It contains characters and situations that aren't easy to forget. -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780732267834
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Australia
  • Publication date: 1/24/2001
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.11 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel Gap Creek and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at www.robert-morgan.com.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2001

    An unforgettable story of real life and love

    I found this story truly moving. The ordinary characters, struggling with daily life, have more to say about love and marriage than in any book I've ever read. This book is great for those who are bored with their marriage or who have begun taking their spouss for granted. Tom and Ginny are two characters that will stay with me. I enjoyed this even more than Gap Creek. Thanks Robert Morgan!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2000

    A wonderful book

    The Truest Pleasure was a wonderful book that I couldn't put down.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2006

    A true masterpiece...

    I have just finished reading this book, and the lump in my throat hasn't left. I lament Ginny and Tom's inability to relate more to each other, most especially what their truest pleasures were. Although the story was set at the turn of the century, married men and women still quarrel about the same things as Ginny and Tom did. The language of the story simply kept me in awe, and the little, simple things of farm life made me long to be part of that period in time. Like the other reviewer before me, I, too, would like to go back to the world of Ginny Peace, and fight her battles with her, now that Tom Powell is gone. My true appreciation to Mr. Morgan, for having written this masterpiece.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    I went to visit Tom and Ginny but wanted to stay!

    I love the mountains and the area where Ginny and Tom and Pa and the children live. They will continue to live in my heart. I hated to leave, didn't want the book to end. Perhaps Mr. Morgan will one day continue Ginny's story. I would love to return to 'The Truest Pleasure'. Thank you Mr. Morgan. It was indeed my pleasure to read this treasure.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2000

    Close to Home

    This book is great! It is one of those novels that you don't want to put down because you...just have to see what happens next! Although the book's setting is in the mountains of North Carolina during the early 1900's. The situations dealing with marriage, religon, and life in general will hit 'close to home' for anyone who reads it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2013

    Great work.

    Robert Morgan does it again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2013

    I had to skim the last 70 pages or so to put an end to the never

    I had to skim the last 70 pages or so to put an end to the never ending description of land, chores, and "feelings".  Not enough dialogue and the characters were unlikeable.  Was there nothing in their lives that brought any happiness?  Gloomy and jumped from one tragedy and discontentment to another.  Gap Creek is one of my favorites, but this felt like a very dreaded book report assignment.  I know I am the only reader so far who dislikes it.  Maybe I just disliked Ginny so much right off the bat that I was too focused on her selfishness to enjoy what others saw in the story.     

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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