The Truest Pleasure

The Truest Pleasure

4.1 9
by Robert Morgan

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Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century after her family has given up on her ever marrying, narrates THE TRUEST PLEASURE--the story of their life together on her father's farm in the western North Carolina mountains. They have a lot in common--love of the land and fathers who fought in the Civil War. Tom's father died in the war, but Ginny's father came back…  See more details below


Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century after her family has given up on her ever marrying, narrates THE TRUEST PLEASURE--the story of their life together on her father's farm in the western North Carolina mountains. They have a lot in common--love of the land and fathers who fought in the Civil War. Tom's father died in the war, but Ginny's father came back to western North Carolina to hold on to the farm and turn a profit. Ginny's was a childhood of relative security, Tom's one of landlessness. 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. But there is also mutual attraction, and indeed their "loving" is deeply gratifying. What keeps getting in the way of it, though, are their obsessions. Tom Powell's obsession is easy to understand. He's a workaholic who hoards time and money. Ginny is obsessed by Pentecostal preaching. That she loses control of her dignity, that she speaks "in tongues," that she is "saved," seem to her a blessing and to Tom a disgrace. It's not until Tom lies unconscious and at the mercy of a disease for which the mountain doctor has no cure that Ginny realizes her truest pleasure is her love for her husband. Like COLD MOUNTAIN, the time and place of THE TRUEST PLEASURE are remote from contemporary American life, but its rendering of the nature of marriage is timeless and universal. Praise for THE TRUEST PLEASURE: "Marvelously vivid imagery. . . . a quietly audacious book."--The New York Times Book Review; "Morgan deeply understands these people and their world, and he writes about them with an authority usually associated with the great novelists of the last century. . . . the book is astonishing."--The Boston Book Review;

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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

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Truest Pleasure 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Truest Pleasure was a wonderful book that I couldn't put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Robert Morgan does it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MrsO More than 1 year ago
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.