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The Tall Woman

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  633 ratings  ·  96 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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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  633 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Diane Barnes
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads, favorites
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
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
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)

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!
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
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.
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)
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.
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!
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 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is in my top three favorite books of all times!
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.
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".
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
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Their are some books, you re-read every year. For me, this is one.
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
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
In the Appalachian mountains, a pregnant Lydia McQueen sees her husband off to the civil war. Her baby is born wrong and when her husband returns with post traumatic war stress, she soon sees him off again for a two year trip which she hopes will help him. In spite of the hardships all around her and the continual arrival of more children, (Her husband does return) Lydia never falters. She rises to every challenge in a time when life was hard. Although not actually a tall woman, she is called so ...more
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
Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Tall Woman, first published in 1962, is a classic of Appalachian literature. The novel follows the main character, Lydia, from young womanhood (just before the Civil War) to death. Much of the book concerns the work Lydia does in her home and on the farm, the children she bears and raises, her efforts to earn some money, and the community members she interacts with. At times the family struggles to make a living, and tough decisions must be made: whether to divert land into the cash crop of ...more
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book almost as an after thought at a bookstore while on vacation. But then I read it and became one of my favorites. There are characters we read about but then there are characters that become almost like real friends to us. That is what happened with this book. The main character is a salt of the earth woman and the story is her life ~ trying to learn how to live with a husband who is broken in so many ways after The Civil War, how she works to keep her home/children/marriage tog ...more
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
This is my favorite book. I read it the first time when I was in the eighth grade. I decided then that I would name my first daughter, Lydia, after the book's heroine, Lydia Moore McQueen. Sure enough, my oldest daughter is named Lydia. I still think it's the prettiest name.
Lydia, my other daughter, Kate and I were lucky enough to meet the author, Wilma Dykeman, in Lexington, Kentucky at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. She was so gracious and seemed genuinely pleased to have a namesake for her Lydia.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful, wonderful read this was. It belongs to a genre of Central Appalachian 'old-timey' mountain folk books that takes you there, and has characters that'll last a long time after the book is finished. I lived in East KY for several years and worked with people that could have walked right out of this book. The mountains are beautiful, and the kinship networks are as sturdy and beautiful as the mountains. There is plenty of hardship and ugliness in both, but it is the interweaving of ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Tall Woman tells the story of Lydia McQueen and we are able to follow her life and its struggles as she marries, starts a family, sends a husband off to war, buries loved ones, and makes a home from nothing. It's hard to say exactly what about this book I loved so much but as soon as I finished it I knew it was one of the best books I'd read in a long time. The only part I didn't like about the Tall Woman was Lydia's husband Mark. I felt as though she deserved someone better and I'll leave i ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Second time reading, this time for book group. Lyddie McQueen is like a grittier, Appalachian Anne Shirley. She lives and loves fully, appreciates nature with a keen eye and a passionate heart, and is determined to keep going in the face of adversity. She’s a marvelous character and the writing is just beautiful. Page-turning historical fiction, set in the mountains of North Carolina in the decades after the Civil War. Highly recommended!
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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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“Better wear out than rust out.” 1 likes
“Did you ever think how wonderful to have so much ahead of us? There's a whole lifetime to be lived, all sorts of undreamed surprises to come, people to know, things to be done - and we're here! Sometimes I come right up against thinking about it and I'm so full of joy it fills plumb to the brim, like the psalmist's cup that just runs over.” 1 likes
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