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Walking to Gatlinburg

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  340 ratings  ·  92 reviews
A stunning and lyrical Civil War thriller, Walking to Gatlinburg is a spellbinding story of survival, wilderness adventure, mystery, and love in the time of war.

Morgan Kinneson is both hunter and hunted. The sharp-shooting 17-year-old from Kingdom County, Vermont, is determined to track down his brother Pilgrim, a doctor who has gone missing from the Union Army. But first
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Shaye Areheart Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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There are scores of books that I read and promptly forget about. Some, if I see the cover or read the title, I can remember a bit about. Others escape me completely: I can read a full description of the book and still not remember anything else about it. Howard Frank Mosher's books do not fall into the category of forgettable books. They are so beautifully strange and interesting. He's also a wonderful, lyrical writer. Walking to Gatlinburg is set during the Civil War, although, with the excepti ...more
Because I am interested in Civil War historical fiction, I checked out the GRs reviews and downloaded it on my Kindle. (After reading Wild, I thought another walking adventure novel would be novel...)
At first, I was delighted with the author's use of 19th cy Yankee vernacular, story line and his beautiful descriptions of Northeast Kingdom Vermont, and the Quaker Underground RR. But, as 30% neared, the plot and sub plots became so confounded that I was eager to put it down, rather than finish it
Though beautifully, creatively written, and though I couldn't put it down, this novel irritated me. It was labeled Civil War-era historical fiction, so I was eager to try it; but it was really more like a dark, almost mystical thriller. During the Civil War. The entire story meandered through such sordid, seedy settings and characters as to leave me feeling like the whole world is purely evil. And though I certainly liked the main character, his journey was so horrific and tragic that it almost ...more
Jo Ann
Beacause we were headed to Gatlinburg for a family reunion a few weeks ago, I chose to read this book last month, before the reunion...the premise was interesting and fun, and I tend to love books about the Civil War. Morgan, a 17 year old Quaker, tracks his brother Pilgrim, through NY, PA, Gettysburg, MD, West VA, KY, TN, and has a plethora of adventures along the way...I enjoyed it, but not as much as I anticipated I would.
Pat Herndon
This was a lively tale of a young man's odyssey from Vermont to Tennessee in search of his long lost brother. Along the way he encounters a fantastical array of friends, lovers and foes. There are elements of traditional historical fiction with the story set against the Civil War. But, also intertwined are elements of magical realism and hints of the classic Odyssey, plus a tiny bit of Forest Gump. The pace is lively. The story engaging. I wondered if I would consider this a Young Adult title, b ...more
It's rare recently
that I have a book in hand
that I want to slow down and savor
This a Civil War era thriller
but it's not about the war per se
When you read
keep the unabridged dictionary handy
It will increase your enjoyment
Better yet read it on a Kindle
The dictionary is built in
Feb 26, 2011 Lori added it
really wanted to like this as historical fiction is one of my favorite genres but just didn't. the dialogue was really tedious and difficult to follow
Pamela Batson
I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would have liked more closer on some of the characters.
Deborah Sloan
Walking to Gatlinburg: A Novel
It is not often that a writer can successfully integrate the concept of language into writing a book. Howard Frank Mosher in Walking to Gatlinberg has not just one dialect (common English) in but 3 or more language dialects including that of the 1860 slaves and hidden from society hillbilly that people rarely are exposed to. I truly would give this book 4 1/2 stars just for the dialects alone. I loved it.

Seventeen year old Morgan Kinneson starts his journey from the
Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester
Walking to Gatlinburg is a wonderful story of a young man, 17-year-old Morgan Kinneson, who travels from Vermont to the Great Smoky Mountains trying to find his older brother, Pilgrim, who went missing during the Battle at Gettysburg. Along the way, as in all good tales, Morgan encounters a whole host of quirky characters including a weeping elephant, a woman who lives in a tree, and the not so quirky and very beautiful slave girl named Slidell.

The year is 1864. The Kinneson family has been help
Part rip-snortin’ adventure story, part historical novel, part coming-of-age story, part Odyssey, Walking to Gatlinburg rewards the reader with quirky, unpredictable characters, deft use of language, suspense, and moral choices at every turn. I couldn’t put it down! I also agree with an online synopsis which concludes, “Magical and wonderfully strange, Walking to Gatlinburg is both a thriller of the highest order and a heartbreaking odyssey into the heart of American darkness.”

So why just three
Christopher Hicks
I really liked the premise of this book...Morgan Kinneson, a young conductor on the Underground Railroad goes off on a quest during the Civil War to find his missing brother. There were three things that Mosher excelled at in this work:

1. Building characters -- A lot of times, novelists can get caught up in the characterization of their own protagonist, foregoing a better understanding of the supporting roles. Mosher, however, built a great cast of secondary characters, all connected to each oth
Rebecca Booth
Jun 17, 2010 Rebecca Booth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Rebecca by: Read It Forward
In 1864, Morgan Kinneson , a seventeen year old is helping a runaway slave named Jesse through the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada. Morgan was away hunting for food and on his return he finds that Jesse has been murdered. Sadden and grieving, Morgan travels south from the north through the battlefields of America to the Great Smoky Mountains, in search of his older brother Pilgrim, who is now absent from the Union Army. Morgan's wants to locate the favorite brother and renew relations ...more
I enjoyed this book and found it quite the page-turner. I wasn't expecting the thriller elements, but found them fun anyway. I'd recommend this book to anyone loosely interested in the Civil War era in American history -- a specialist might be disappointed -- and those who enjoy a good odyssey. Although on the whole I liked this book, I can't say that it got to me in the same way books like _Cold Mountain_ or _The Adventures of T.S. Spivet_ did. I'm not entirely sure why, though I suspect that t ...more
This is Howard Frank Mosher's paen to the Odyssey and to Huckleberry Finn. A 17-year old boy, Morgan Kinneson, leaves Vermont in search of his brother, Pilgrim, missing in the Civil War. He manages to meet up with both Abe Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, but the adventures are based on Odysseus' as he returns from Troy. My book group chose this book (our first three this year are by Vermont authors). I liked the mystical realism, the use of nature as a counterbalance to the chaos of war, and the epil ...more

Walking to Gatlinburg is solidly rooted in the history of the turbulent Civil War period, but the story is transformed by the marvelous imagination of the author into something more than the casual reader not familiar with his past work might expect.

Young Morgan Kinneson, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, is escorting a runaway slave to Canada and making plans to go south in search of his brother, Pilgrim, who disappeared in the midst of the carnage at Gettysburg. Before he can deliver hi
Carnegie-Stout Public Library
"When I first read this book was about a young man who walks through the mountains during the Civil War, I wondered if it was similar to Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. And although both books have a very lyrical style and the storylines sound familiar, they are entirely different novels."

Check out Becky's review on the library's blog:
This is the story of a 17-year-old from Vermont, who journeys south through the nightmarish landscape of the Civil War. The reason for his trek is twofold: to find his brother, who has gone missing-in-action during the 1864 Battle of Gettysburg, and to avenge the lynching of an escaped slave who was in his care. Along the way he meets an unusual assortment of characters, including a woman who lives in a tree, a blind cobbler, an elephant, Robert E. Lee, and a slave girl, with whom he falls in lo ...more
Just got it from the library: the first person to borrow it from our library in Hyde Park.
A fantastic (read highly fictional) mystical story of a very young man (17 at the beginning of the story) in search of his older brother. From Vermont's Kingdom County, our hero is on foot as he travels south during the late part of the Civil War looking for his brother, who went missing at Gettysburg the summer before. He meets various incredible characters as he traces portions of the Underground Railroad
Paula Hebert
in this tale of a young brothers search for his missing brother after the battle of gettysburg, we follow a near epic adventure, with characters and animals the stuff of which dreams and nightmares are made. it's a pilgrim's progress of sorts-with apologies to the lost brother whose named pilgrim-as the young brother morgan discovers both the good and bad parts of himself as he journeys from one underground railroad station to another. tracing some of the most vile murderers ever seen, and helpi ...more
Jan Polep
Remember how mad I was when the guy died at the end of "Cold Mountain"? Well, I'm not real overjoyed at the ending of "Walking to Gatlinburg" either. Enough of a spoiler alert.

In this book, Morgan goes looking for his brother, Pilgrim, who hasn't been heard from since the Battle of Gettysburg. The author really has a way with language appropriate to the time period and makes the geography of eastern US between Vermont and Gatlinburg understandable.
Some of his murderous characters are a little
I chose this book because an independent bookstore recommended it as written by a local author and set locally. As others have said, it's as much fantasy as historical, along the lines of the Odyssey or, at times, Dante's Inferno. The story is gripping and well written, though I sometimes found myself putting it down as the brutality and extreme violence made me begin to feel sick. Not for the faint of heart. I'm not sure it accomplishes any great epic learning about humanity, just has you rooti ...more
I loved the writing and the epic nature of the story, but am sure I didn't pick up all the nuances of the story. A young man in Civil War era America leaves Vermont in search of his brother Pilgrim who went missing after Gettysburg. Along his route, which follows in reverse a trail of the Underground Railroad, he meets strange heroes and villains, falls in love, and must choose between a path of pacifism or vengefulness. Mosher has written picaresque adventures, serious stories of family relatio ...more
Frank Mosher is one of my favorite authors. I have heard him speak on many occasions, and his simple, Vermont manner is engaging and definitely "northeast kingdom". He spoke about this book at a book fair and read from it. A couple of "characters" stood out, in addition to the main characters. One was a weeping elephant, the other a talking turtle. I asked myself, "how in the world do these two fit into a story about the Civil War?" You must read it to find out. Regardless of whether you "read" ...more
I am not normally a fan of historical fiction, however this was a really good read, even if sometimes hard to follow. The mystical properties of some of the characters were an interesting addition that I think set it apart from your usual novel centered on the Civil War. It was also a nice change that nothing in the book turned out the way I thought it might, from the conclusion of the "epic journey," to the romantic relationships. Even though the resolutions and relationships were not what I ex ...more
I really enjoyed this book. The adventure/journey parts of this novel reminded me of Huckleberry Finn, as well as the cast of unique characters. Morgan Kinneson is a seventeen year old hunter from Vermont. His family is part of the Underground Railroad. A man he is helping escape is killed and Morgan feels responsible. He begins a long trek to find his brother, Pilgrim, a doctor who has gone missing from the Union Army during the Civil War. This book is filled with wonderful scenery, regional di ...more
I didn't finish this one. I was in a Civil War mindset and excited about the book, but I just couldn't get into it. It seemed to be an adventure tale of a boy in search of his brother, while meeting dangers on the road alone. Fine. But the story got lost in the distraction of carnival-style characters and events. Crazed killers on the loose, elephants, gypsys, an apocalyptic funeral hearse ... it was too much of a good thing. I hate to put a book down, but I've got some other things to plow thro ...more
I just don't know. . . Put in The Odyssey, Pilgrim's Progress, and any other similar epics, set it all in the eastern U.S. from Vermont to Gatlinburg in 1864. Mix it up with feuding families, villainous plantation owners, mistreated slaves, hillbillies . . . oh, and did I mention Quakers? There are also gypsies, and, wait for it .... an elephant. Very well written with a wonderful flowing language and lots of symbolism. The ending made me cry, but it was sometimes a hard journey to get there.
I really loved this book. When I finished it, I kept it by my bed to savor for a few days before returning it to the library. Apocalytic and strange and wonderous. In retrospect, it reminded me a little of Cormac McCarthy's The Road - if it had been written by an optimist. Don't let that make you shy away from reading this book. Reviews have compared it to Frazier's Cold Mountain but it reminded me more of Paulette Giles's enemy Women. Read all three and decide for yourself!
Bill P.
I enjoyed Mosher's latest but found myself wishing it was longer and a bit more developed. The central character is a combination of thinker, moralist and man of action but what is staged as his long trek south in search of his brother seemed almost overnight in how quickly it progressed and his battles with the crazed killers bent on his destruction a bit too easy for an untested young man of 17. It's not often I find myself wishing a novel was longer but with this I did.
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Born in 1943. Literature prize from American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1981; fiction fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts; Guggenheim fellow; New England Book Award, 1991; Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, 2005.

Over the course of his writing career, Mosher has developed a reputation as a respected commentator on the often overlooked
More about Howard Frank Mosher...
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