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The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  265 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
John Fox Jr. published this great romantic novel of the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky and Virginia in 1908, and the book quickly became one of America's favorites. It has all the elements of a good romance -- a superior but natural heroine, a hero who is an agent of progress and enlightenment, a group of supposedly benighted mountaineers to be drawn into the flow of mai ...more
Paperback, 440 pages
Published May 4th 1984 by University Press of Kentucky (first published 1908)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 716)
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Joel
Dec 31, 2012 Joel rated it liked it
It's interesting how many people use the term "Western" to describe this novel set around the Virginia/Kentucky border at the turn of the 20th century. Maybe it's just that the title sounds like the title of a Western. (And the book does have some plot elements in common with westerns, too; namely, the struggle to impose the rule of law in a lawless, violent place.)

The book interweaves 3 elements:

1) A Pygmalion-style love story. A young engineer, Jack Hale, while scouting the mountains of the Cu
...more
Samantha Shepherd
Jan 20, 2008 Samantha Shepherd rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Appalachian fiction
Recommended to Samantha by: college
Shelves: very-good-books
This was part of my Appalachian Lit class in college. John Fox, Jr, who was business man from Lexington, KY, really did come to the mountains of Southeastern KY and Southwestern, VA in the early days (around 1900?) to help settle the territory. He came seeking to buy coal and timber for cheap from the people who had lived there, largely uneducated and unchanged, since Daniel Boone's days. This guy is supposed to be the enemy. He came to take advantage and force "normal" life on my (and probably ...more
Beth
Jul 01, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
I love Appalachian fiction. My grandmother recommended this book to me. She read it in grade school and she said it would help me to know what it was like when she was growing up. I loved it. I loved reading about the way of life in the mountains back then. I found it interesting that once June left it changed her and she could never really go back again and be completely happy. A common theme in novels, she was now stuck between worlds. I often think my own grandmother felt this way once she le ...more
Dan Chance
Mar 14, 2012 Dan Chance rated it liked it
Shelves: hist-fic
This is perhaps a product of its time in that the action and the plot begin very unobtrusively. You meet the characters as though glimpsed through the trees of the Appalachian forest. It is hard to believe the isolation of small homesteads or even townships in the mountains. While Einstein was proving the theory of relativity, the Hatfields were killing the McCoys over some slight or imagined slight. The nation makes mistakes and moves on, regions once prosperous die and people move out. Some of ...more
Tom
Jun 28, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those how enjoy reading for pleasure
Recommended to Tom by: My Sister Mary Ann
My motivation for reading this book comes from my grandfather. He was reading "Lonesome Pine" when my mother was born. He named his daughter after the main character in this book. What an insight into my grandfather!
Intrigue, venture, descriptive, Love, fueding, fighting and fussing, Keeps you "on your seat." Old Kentucky/Virginia towns are dipicted as they were. Boom and Bust. John Hale found, making the world his own and alone was impossible. "It is hard for a hungry man to feed imslef with
...more
Kim
Sep 03, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I wasn't too keen to read Trail of the Lonesome Pine, especially since it was required reading for a class. But after reading it, it has become one of my favorite novels. It's an Appalachian romance, with some details of the rise of the coal industry and feuds.

It took me a bit to fully get into, but once I did I couldn't stop reading it. My cousin and I (whom is also taking the class with me) plowed through the last 100+ pages in no time. You don't know what's going to happen and you just want
...more
Garth Mailman
We’ve all heard about the Hatfields and the McCoys and a similar feud serves as background for this tale set at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. This one supposedly began when one school boy made fun of another’s patched jeans. There really is a place on the Virginia/Kentucky Border called Big Stone Gap--I always thought it was fictitious. More recently neighbouring Harlan County is the setting for the 5-season TV series Justified. For those unfamiliar with Appalachia and whose only contact w ...more
Cathy Cramer
This is the second time in my life that I read this for my mom. I couldn't remember how all the characters turned out, so it was suspenseful at the end. This provides an interesting contrast with Harriette Arnow's "The Dollmaker." In "Lonesome Pine," the country ways are viewed as unjust and bloody, and escaping the region was a step upwards for June. In "The Dollmaker," the country ways were seen as moral and good, and leaving for the city brought in negative influences that brought immorality ...more
Cody
Sep 01, 2011 Cody rated it really liked it
I liked this book although some of the passages about coal and iron ore get a bit long (think MOBY-DICK). But the love story is beautiful and the Fox's writing is spot on in his descriptions of the mountains and his dialect writing.

Any fan of Appalachian literature or resident of the Appalachian Mountain area should read this. I hope to see the outdoor drama next summer to refresh my memory of it.
James
May 03, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
This book and his "Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come" are two of my all-time favorite stories. Fox is buried in the same Paris, KY cemetery where my brother-in-law, Al Proctor is buried.
Craig
May 04, 2014 Craig rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Set in Appalachia (Virginia/Kentucky) in the late 1800s, John Hale, a geologist, is interested in securing coal claims to develop the Cumberland Gap area. On one of his forays, he meets June Tolliver, a backwards country girl (just a child) who captivates him. She is equally intrigued with Hale. Their platonic relationship develops over time; he helps her to gain an education and shed her hillbilly ways - and even gain the acclaim of Eastern society. This is a story of develop ...more
Vivian
Aug 31, 2015 Vivian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This Cinderalla / Romeo & Juliet epic, set in Appalachia at the turn of the last century, is more than a winter/summer love story but is a love story of place as well. It is an exploration of human nature, the impact of environment on conduct, the power of education over ignorance, and even the dawn of the 'rule of law'.

I read this edition while summering at my grandfather's place so many years ago that there was really not much else to do than read and this was at hand. As a teenager I cou
...more
Clay Leonard
May 05, 2015 Clay Leonard rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this tale of a man and woman who love each other but don't know how to show it. The city-born man finds a place for himself in the rugged mountains, learning that there's more to growth than growth itself. The mountain raised girl is seduced by the city high life and almost loses herself. They both nearly lose it all but end up finding much more in a simple life together.
Hannah
Apr 27, 2016 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I got this years ago and read it within a month of buying it. I especially loved the scenery depicted, as well as feeling the edge-of-my-seat suspense over the next actions of the feuding neighbors. The romance is sweet and subtle until the very end.
Melody Michelle
Mar 05, 2012 Melody Michelle rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons. First, I've been reading books with magical elements lately and I was in the mood to read something more 'realistic'. This book fit that mood. Secondly, I enjoyed Fox's style of writing because it isn't quite polished. There are moments in which I found myself wanting better transitions, or more in-depth explanations. For some strange reason it was delightful to read something that didn't scream: "I'm written perfectly"! Lastly, I'm a b ...more
A.J.
Sep 02, 2012 A.J. rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of the lives of the people of the Kentucky mountains and the way that their lives changed as 'furriners' bring their own notions of law and order and civilisation into the area in the hunt for coal and iron ore. The book was a top seller in 1908 and 1909 and it's easy to see why: Fox's writing is descriptive without being verbose and his tale of warring clans in the mountains is easy to believe. I was a little disappointed with the way Dave's part of the story turn ...more
Jan
Mar 17, 2009 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because of all the references to it in "Gilead". It was pretty educational about the Appalachian area and actually got me to thinking about their dialect. Something in the book made me think Scottish, and sure enough when I looked into it many of their expressions are centuries old Scottish. They were just so isolated that they didn't change with the rest of the world.
Such a pretty book and a great study into the development of that area with their family feuds (once again an influe
...more
Mae Arink
Jun 26, 2014 Mae Arink marked it as to-read
Read by the characters in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead
Mary Marshall
A good ole' western read.
Kay
Sep 27, 2013 Kay rated it it was amazing
Yes, by today's standards it is creepy to have an older man fall in love with someone he refers to as a little girl, but this is a classic romance of old. Set in the mountains fo Virginia and kentucky, it is not a predictable Disney-style story, so happy endings come hard and harsh tragedy abounds. By the way, feel free to watch the 1936 film of the same name starring Fred MacMurray and Sylvia Sydney. It won't ruin the book at all for you. Although it's based on the book, there are few similarit ...more
Robert Hann
May 08, 2016 Robert Hann rated it did not like it
Totally lost on me
Kimbolimbo
Jun 28, 2009 Kimbolimbo rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
So, I thought this book was supposed to be a western...and in a sense it was, but it takes place in the Appalachian Mountains (a very different "west" than I expected). The cowboy's role is replaced by hicks with moonshine stills and very bad grammar. The hero remains that quiet honorable law-abiding man who defends mistreated women/girls, but he doesn't drive cattle or roam the sage flats instead he is a geologist/engineer looking for unclaimed coal mines. Interesting read, but nowhere as good ...more
Brad C
Feb 09, 2016 Brad C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
3.5 Stars
Ferris
Dec 31, 2010 Ferris rated it liked it
Audiobook......A sweet love story and some interesting historical fiction....This novel is set in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and chronicles the transition of mountain dwellers from a time of little to no contact with the world at large to a time when the search for coal, the expansion of the rail system, and the influx of speculators changed everything. Family feuds and a sweet love story make it enjoyable as a story, and the history is informative, if not surprising.
Andrew
Liking Fox more and more - don't know if I'm getting to better material or if I'm just getting used to him. This story is partially Pocahontas, partially Pygmalion, and is interesting to consider as a tale of domestic colonialism. Through the novels and short stories, Fox builds a fairly complete world - characters and scenarios often recur - which is rewarding. Not sure the actual plot or characters of this piece will persist in my memory, but was an enjoyable read.
Julia
Mar 07, 2012 Julia rated it liked it
A little bit weird having the businessman fall in love with a young girl, but at least he waited until she grew up to reveal it to her. Interesting to see how she became more and more urban, as he paid for her New York City education, and for him to become more and more backwoodsman as he lived and worked around his mining interests. Loved all the scenic mountain descriptions. It was good to learn about the day to day life of these simple, hard-working people.
Dianne
May 17, 2011 Dianne rated it it was amazing
I just love this sappy old Western Romance novel-how weird
is that. It's just so homey and straight forward and they
have dialect and it's a Cinderella story out West with
villians and feuds and all kinds of stuff. It was mentioned
in the book The Devil Amongst the Lawyers and I was curious,
so I loaded it on my Nook and just loved it.
Anne
Jan 11, 2014 Anne added it
This was a really good book. I choose it as it was the summer production in the Adrianna Trigiani series.
Verna
Jun 10, 2012 Verna rated it it was amazing
My favorite of John Fox Jr. books. The writing is a shock when used to the graphic situations and language in modern novels. A sweet story of another time and place. I've been to the trail and it's a beautiful place. The book is difficult to read if you have not heard the sound of this Appalachian accent.
Rick Parsons
Apr 25, 2016 Rick Parsons rated it liked it
Enjoyable story but a hard read, the writing style bounces all over.
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John Fox Jr. (1862-1919), American author wrote the Civil-War based The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1903).

John William Fox was born on 16 December 1862 in Stony Point, the heart of Bluegrass country in Bourbon County, Kentucky. The prominent Fox family was large and close knit; John had four full brothers and two sisters, and three half-brothers from his father's first wife who had died in ch
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“There were tiny drops along the roots of her shining hair for the climb had been steep and now the shadow of disappointment darkened her eyes.” 1 likes
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