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The Tall Woman

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Lydia Moore grew up in the Appalachian region before the Civil War and married Mark McQueen shortly after it began. Her husband went off to fight for the Union while her father and brother fought for the Confederates. While the men were gone, outliers raided Lydia's mother's home, assaulting her and stealing the livestock. A pregnant Lydia returned to her old home place to ...more
Hardcover, 315 pages
Published June 1st 1962 by Holt Rinehart and Winston (first published March 1962)
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“The wind came again and she felt the pleasure of her own body-warmth. Like a seed, she felt, one of those sun-warmed seeds in the spring ground, growing, ready to give forth new life.”

Do you feel like doing back flips across the yard and hugging your best women friends when you read books with strong heroines? I know I do. If you answered yes as well, then The Tall Woman really ought to be on your to-read list. The problem is, you’ve probably never even heard of this book! The Goodreads listing
Diane Barnes
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, re-reads
This was my second reading of this book, and if I had time and didn't have so many other books waiting, I would turn right back to page 1 and start reading again, just to stay in Lydia McQueen ' s world a little longer. Maybe because my father was from Boone, and my grandparents had a mountain farm before they sold it and moved closer to town because of age. I vaguely remember the smells of the mountains, the cold streams, the tang of the air that was in so many of the descriptions of the natura ...more
This, then, was what a glimpse of truth might be like; hard as stone, beautiful as stars, satisfying as bread.

The Tall Woman is the story of Lydia Moore, a girl born in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and raised in a hard-scrabble world that gets no easier when she becomes a woman and marries Mark McQueen. It is in the years following the Civil War, when the hurt and division has not been healed, that Lydia must find a way to live her life, raise her children, and bind her commun
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set in the remote North Carolina mountains, this 1962 Dykeman Classic is about the strength of one woman who holds together her family and unites a divided community after the civil war.

Lydia (Moore) McQueen is one hell of a dynamic woman who not only helps those in need, but handles her own challenges and devastating horrors of life with a calm and forgiving heart.

Great read! Unexpected ending! Loved it!

(THE FAR FAMILY (1966) continues the saga generations later)

The Tall Woman is a book I have been interested in reading for some time but, having no access, wondered whether I should buy. It is long out of print, So I asked fellow OTSLT member Diane about it and she promptly lent me her copy! The rest is reading history for me.

The story of Lydia McQueen is that of a young woman who grows up in the mountains of Appalachia in the Carolinas, coming of age just before the Civil War. She marries the man she loves and they raise a family of six children but lif
Cathrine ☯️
An absolute gem. Though out of print I was able to purchase a copy on Amazon and join others for a group monthly read. If you appreciate literature of the American South, Appalachian Noir, or books like Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith you will love this one. If you want to learn more please read my GR friend Diane Barnes's review here:
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"A tall woman casts a long shadow"
And so it was with Lydia McQueen who with ( and more often without) her husband, Mark, who returns home from the war a changed man, raised her family of six children, in the high Appalachian mountains after the end of the civil war. Though daily life was already consumed by farm and household chores and trying to maintain a family on the barest of necessities, Lydia remained hardworking and selfless, becoming a local midwife and steadfastly working towards her b
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, southern
This is a book that you save for your daughter to read. Not for when she can read it but when she can understand the importance of this work of literature. I adored this book and the protagonist. The title is soooo fitting! My husband found this little gem for 50 cents, I would say that's well worth the money!
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my second reading of this book and it did not disappoint. It's still a favorite and it still emotionally moved me even knowing the outcome. What a gem of a book! A book about family, community, self-sacrifice and humility.

Great commentary on this book....
Kirk Smith
What would life be like to build a cabin in the mountains and work daylight to dusk to fill the larder? This is a beautiful depiction of what that might be like in the 19th Century but much, much more than just that. A woman, her family, her strength and a life so full. It is a quiet book with deep content. One word for me represents Lydia the center of this book: Wise. I knew all along I had been captured, but was hardly prepared for the powerful ending. Recommended for anyone with a need for ...more
Just inside the book, “A tall woman casts a long shadow.”—Mountain saying

It’s always a treat to ‘discover’ a new author—even if it’s one whose book you’ve owned for 20+ years. The Tall Woman is Lydia McQueen née Moore, a truly admirable heroine. It’s also the title of a novel which opens during the conclusion of the Civil War in the Appalachian Mountains and continues through the difficult Reconstruction years when this poverty-stricken area is still split along Union-Rebel lines. This book dea
Whoa, whoa, whoa. This book hits all the marks. Don't be lulled into thinking this one is a story regarding a woman and her struggle to eek out a life on a rugged mountainside farm in post-civil way North Carolina. That's short selling. It starts out as such, but this one ramps up to hit the deep places of human existence; life marrow which is drawn out of books like Stoner but told in a way that can lift your soul (and your soles). The juxtaposition between the illuminations within against thos ...more
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Realistic and poignant story of a woman, her life, her marriage, her children, her work in the period following the Civil War within a small area of Appalachia. It's written completely in the mid-20th century style of everyday narrator living her work and her thoughts. It holds no agenda outside of her time and place, and gives full throated song to Lydia's homestead in the cove where two mountains meet. And at the same time details what fine onus and neighbor/family connections inspired her per ...more
In the early 1860's in North Carolina, Lydia Moore married Mark McQueen. The Civil War had finally arrived on their doorstep but because of their conflicting views, Mark went to fight with the Union and Lydia's father and brother joined up with the Confederates. They left the women and children to survive as best as they could.

Hardship affected their food supply but nothing was worse than when Sarah Moore, Lydia's mother, was abused by rough riders late one night. (view spoiler)
Lori Keeton
“... and so she did what she must.”

A beautifully written novel about a woman named Lydia Moore McQueen and the effects of the hard life living in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina just after the Civil War and during Reconstruction. She is a daughter, mother, wife, farmer, midwife, naturalist, community builder and advocate for education. A strong, devoted woman who made a life for herself, her husband and their 6 children. Her story is one of self-sacrifice, conviction, and forgiveness
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I haven't been in tears over a book for a long time--this one did it TWICE! I chose the novel for my AP English III students to read in January because it is set in the Appalachians during the Civil War and after. It will be a good alternative for those who aren't William Faulkner fans (the other choice is The UnVanquished, set in the same period). I liken it to a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, but with more pathos. I can't wait until my classes start to read and discuss it!
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A forgotten book, that is no longer in print, that should be considered a classic with the best of the Southern Literary greats.
Dave Johnson
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I love reading about how people lived in years gone by. I've often thought I'd like to have lived back then. I like the simplicity of speech that contained a wealth of meaning, the integrity of the characters, and the joy they had over things that are commonplace for us. If my daughter reads this, you are my "tall woman with a long shadow", and I love you dearly.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who values family and the simple things in life.
Recommended to Jenn by: Cindy
Shelves: book-club
I LOVED this book! It is one of my all-time favorites - Lydia McQueen was a strong woman who lived a hard mountain life.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is in my top three favorite books of all times!
Susanne Gulde
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I learned about this book from the CrimeReads newsletter--they called it rural noir.
I call it a saga, following a woman, her family, and her community from the Civil War to late 19th century. Interesting to me that it takes place in that time period, written in mid-20th century, and I'm reading it now, and so much rings true. This is my kind of book.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I guess I would have never read this book if I haden’t picked it up at a library book sale. That would have been a shame. This little known book was written in 1962 by Wilma Dykeman who was know for writing about the people of Appalacia. This novel is about the life of a determined, strong mountain woman just after the Civil War. When I first started reading this book I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of detail to the characters in this book. But as I got further into it, it became real ...more
Susan Rowan
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book that every woman should read. We as women often are the binding that holds our families together. I can only hope to be the kind of woman that Lydia McQueen is.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, favorites
The Definitive Must-Read Appalachian Novel! I can't say enough wonderful things about this book. Wilma Dykeman illustrates with this novel that a book with a great story and multidimensional characters does not need profanity or gratuitous sex scenes to prop it up. I look forward to reading the sequel "The Far Family".
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Their are some books, you re-read every year. For me, this is one.
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This will move to one of my top 10 books ever.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorites; an important book for me personally
Carinne Gee
I can't remember where I saw this book recommended, but its been on my to read list for awhile. My problem was that it doesn't come in ebook form or in audiobook. I haven't read a physical book in probably 5 years. Ebooks are so much easier for me to carry around and read when I have 2 minutes. But, I started it thinking I'd give it a couple chapters to see if it hooked me enough for me to work at finding time to read a physical book. What a lovely book! I can't even say why it was so wonderful, ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I suppose I'm in the minority here, but I did not enjoy this book at all. I felt like the main character's life was tediously mundane, and often depressing. I'm trying to figure out why I can love a hopeless tale like Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but I struggle to plow through this work of sad American fiction. One stark difference between the two is the eloquence of the language. For example, I flipped open my copy of Hardy's work to chapter 13, which reads, "The event of Tess Durbeyfield's retur ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Lydia Moore grew up in the Appalachian region before the Civil War and married Mark McQueen shortly after it began. Her husband went off to fight for the Union while her father and brother fought for the Confederates. While the men were gone, outliers raided Lydia’s mother’s home, assaulting her and stealing the livestock. A pregnant Lydia returned to her old home place to tend to her mother and brothers and sisters. When her labor began, the doctor was too inebriated to come, so Lydia’s Aunt Ti ...more
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Wilma Dykeman Stokely was an American writer of fiction and nonfiction whose works chronicled the people and land of Appalachia.

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