Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman

This book is very similar to Robert Morgan's Gap Creek; both are set in the Appalachia region of the Southern United States, though Dykeman's novel is set during the Civil War era, while Morgan's work is set more toward the turn of the century 40 years later. This is perhaps why the dialect of Dykeman's tale is much more prominent than in Gap Creek, though perhaps it is simply a difference between the respective authors.

Both Gap Creek and The Tall Woman are void of any distinct or traditional plot, but are rather a collection of stories that follow the life of one woman and her husband, which is perhaps more representative of "real life."

To continue the similarities, both novels focus on strong, hard-working women who carry their tremendous burdens without complaint. Both are married to sullen, wounded men, though Lydia McQueen of Dykeman's novel fares much better than Morgan's Julie Harmon, as Lydia is able to essentially love her husband out of his funk after he returns from a rebel prison after fighting for the Union.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Robert Morgan's novel more, perhaps because I read it first, or because it contained more sex. The collection of stories in Dykeman's novel in contrast to Morgan's were more ordinary, without the excitement of true human connection, somehow lacking a deep, meaningful look into a woman's life and struggles; I can't put my finger on why, but again, perhaps it was because I read Morgan's first. I think, in fact, having read one so similar novel before the latter is significantly affecting my perception of the latter, and I don't know if that is fair. In any case, I think I am done with fiction set in 19th century Appalachia for a while. - 3 stars


Anonymous said...

i've pretty much sworn off reading two books in a row from the same genre. inevitably, the second one doesn't seem as interesting as the first.

L said...

There's more sex in the Robert Morgan novel? Hmm...what was that one called again? I might want to check these out..