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On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets Of The Goler Clan
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On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets Of The Goler Clan

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Imagine a lush green valley, dotted with prosperous farms and towns. It could be anywhere in North America—the Okanagan in B.C., the Niagara orchards of Ontario. In this case it happens to be the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. But on one hill, South Mountain, lives the a clan of impoverished, inbred hillbillies, ignored or shunned by the people in the valley below for tw ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 23rd 1998 by Penguin Group Canada (first published January 1st 1997)
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sylvia kemp Max, I just finished this book and I would be happy to send it to you, free. Worth waiting for? Don't know, only you can answer that, it is…moreMax, I just finished this book and I would be happy to send it to you, free. Worth waiting for? Don't know, only you can answer that, it is disturbing. Anything about incest is bound to be disturbing. I would give it 3 stars, the history is worth it. Sylvia(less)
Jennifer I was coming to ask the same thing... I'm trying to figure out why the Ebook is not available for sale in the US... I want to read this but not for…moreI was coming to ask the same thing... I'm trying to figure out why the Ebook is not available for sale in the US... I want to read this but not for $100(less)

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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  279 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults Only
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Emily Gratton
That’s the way it was on South Mountain
You took your medicine
You kept your families dark secrets
You gagged
You wept
You coiled
You survived.

One day, in 1984, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, 13 year old, Sandra Goler burst into tears in her classroom.
When questioned by her teacher Sandra’s response was that her father had been using her as a wife.

What emerges then are the dark secrets of The Goler Clan of Nova Scotia.
They are not easy to bear witness to.
Sandra is not the only victim.
All of t
George Ilsley
Dec 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, crime
It is hard to enjoy a book with such a gruesome focus. Especially interesting to me since I grew up in the Valley, and went to school in Wolfville in the years just before these events came to light. I have to say I was struck at the division between the mountain and the valley described in the book, because, yes, I did not know these towns just a few miles away on the South Mountain. (On the other hand, I've been all over the North Mountain). The "Stile" also was completely unfamiliar, and I've ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm still having a hard time rating this book. On one hand, the writing was awful and I didn't care for it at all, but on the other hand, the story of the *JUST* the Goler Clan was fascinating and terrifying.

I found the majority of this book to be a throwaway but the only reason why the authors kept in these irrelevant parts was because they likely didn't have enough information about the Goler's to have more than 100 pages. The throwaway parts contained the long, long history of South Mountain
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
bought this at the Bathurst Market, figured it would hold my attention....
Although the middle of the book is quite graphic because it includes the text from the trial, the book is a fascinating sociological study about regions, generations, and the isolation of families and culture that can happen in such close proximity.
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
So very disturbing!!
I read this book many years ago and decided to read it again. Having read a fictional book (Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis) with the same 'theme'..a non fiction book brings life right into our faces!
Oh human..the things you do..the very most disturbing animal of the world we live in.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is true and onpoint, saw the t.v. commentary of the actual girl along with the two authors' I now will write my own story that this book has come out. It still is happening today although this includes all the denials that come with it.
andrew y
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Never before have I read a true crime book covering something truly horrific that doesn't just revel in the dirty details but instead takes a wide, anthropologic perspective on the community that created this horror and why it happened at all. Masterfully done, with the first part really informing everything that comes after. The power of religious institutions and human nature really can't be overstated. Great reporting, great writing, great job all-around.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to this book by the author of Our Daily Bread, Lauren B. Davis. It was partly based on a family of "hillbillies" in Nova Scotia. It is a very hard book to read. The children were all abused, physically, sexually and emotionally. It made me so angry that they hardly spent any time in jail. Thus is our legal system, right? Justice? Both books are amazing, and I hope that you read them both. God bless the children of the Goler clan.
Karen Martin
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone over 16, social workers, lawyers, judges, child mental health workers.
Recommended to Karen by: Denise Zilahy
A good book on a very difficult subject. I found the first 75 or so pages a little tedious, as they went into much detail of the background and history of the Valley and the Mountain. The socioeconomic differences set the backstory of the generations of the Goler Clan and those who were less isolated, better schooled and better raised on the "good" side of the beautiful area known as the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.

It is worth slogging through the dry, factual, descriptive scene setting. Onc
Tracey Tobin
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first few chapters, while interesting history of the valley and mountain, were a bit difficult to get through for me personally because I wasn't concerned about things like how the mountain was formed and what geographic features dot the landscape. But then the real story began and I was engrossed, horrified, amazed. It's truly difficult to believe that in the very months that my parents were getting used to the little infant who was me, less than six hours drive away the Goler trials were t ...more
Morgan Rector
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very, very disturbing. These stories of generational child abuse (in every form) has proven impossible to forget. The fact that those people lived the way they did is shocking and what is miraculous is that some survived to escape and tell their tale. Kudos to Donna Goler for her activism. She grew up in a veritable hell on Earth and it's a testament to her bravery and inner-strength that she is alive today and holding it together.
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm really not sure how to rate this book. How DO you rate a story like this that has come from the darkest corners of a persons life. Especially with such a dark subject matter. I want to say I enjoyed the book but that seems so wrong too. I went from interested to disgusted to horrified to disbelieving to shocked and all around again. I've been to the area and it's so beautiful it's hard to believe that it had such a dark past... I'm gonna have to think about this one still...
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a worthwhile read for the insights into the strong ties that keep individuals in incestuous and abusive relationships. The somewhat academic approach to the topic makes it more palatable for the average reader. There may be no suprises in this study-type book but the information is worth learning.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Slow to start - VERY slow to start, actually, so a bit hard to get into - but once it gets going, this is a really interesting read.
Karen J.
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
I'm still processing my response to this book. It's hard to say "I liked it," because it is such a horrific, true and damning story. It would be more appropriate to say "I'm glad I read it."
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
After living in Nova Scotia (more specifically, the annapolis valley, between the north and south mountains,) all my life, I already knew the basics about the South Mountain and the Goler family, although the accuratacy of the information I had was certainly questionable, considering how much teenagers love to make jokes at the expense of victims of incest and sexual violence. I imgaine that the majority of people from this area have heard at least the family's name. So when my friend offered to ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The most frequently stolen book in the Annapolis Valley library system. It’s no wonder. People living in the vicinity of where this book takes place would be anxious to read about the misdeeds of the Goler clan but might not want others to see them checking the book out from the library. The Goler family lives a ramshackle life on South Mountain, just a few miles from Wolfville with its pleasant tree-lined streets and well respected Acadia University. The first part of this book provides an info ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A shocking window into the lives of children having suffered sexual and physical assault, as well as into the lives of the clan and their friends who committed such acts. This book contains beautiful descriptive passages of the valley, and a wonderfully written historical account for the first 70 or so pages. Then it transitions into a disturbing nightmare. Sexual acts are described with blunt facts, no word hidden from mention. It is explicit. It is terrible. It is sad and horrific. But it's a ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm of mixed feelings about this book. First things first, though... what a tawdry, sensationalized piece of shit it is. Just a step above tabloid "literature". A large chunk of tedious history, followed by a section of nasty, graphic, court testimony and finished by some awkward 3rd person reporting. Just terrible. The victims certainly deserve better... because the criminal justice system seems to have let them down.

On the other hand, this IS a horrific tale of systematic abuse, poverty and go
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know how to review this book. I am from Nova Scotia and grew up hearing the Goler name. I was morbidly curious to read this heartbreaking, stomach churning story. I must say, I was horribly disappointed with this book. The writing is so dry and poorly put together, it was a real struggle to stay focused. It took me 2 months to finish reading it and it's only 283 pages long! The first 10 pages felt like 100. The best (and I use that word loosely due to the horrific content) part of t ...more
Kathleen McRae
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was hard to rate ,mainly because of the graphic descriptions of life in an isolated community exemplified by a history that culturally was separated by those who were shunned because they were poorer and were not admitted into a society that was extremely moralistic and condemned even the children for being born in an undesirable area.The religious element is one of punitive and judgemental value systems. The last point I deem important is the harm that ensues where women have no voice ...more
Veronica Burgess
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being from Nova Scotia and hearing about the Golers growing up, I couldn't wait to read this book. However, the first part of the book was extremely dry, and a long boring read. I kept thinking I had read 100 pages and it would only be like 10. After getting through that part and learning more about the families, then the history of the mountain, it quickly turned into a hard read in a different way. Reading what those kids went through and how they described their experiences broke my heart. I ...more
Lynn Dorcas
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
not the best written story but the subject matter is so upsetting that I had to put the book down returning to it a few hours later when I could handle the subject again. It is very sad to say that this was allowed to happen in such a lovely province. I cannot come to grips on who is to blame as so many people in the health care profession were aware of what was going on and did nothing. As far as what the perpetrators got in the form of punishment, I think it was a slap in the face of the victi ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Very sad to read what happened to all the children in this clan, especially knowing that people in the nearby communities knew what was going on, and did nothing to help. Also doctors knew, and did not report it, and the children did not get any counselling to help them move forward in their lives. Some had sad lives in the foster homes, and returned to the mountain in the end. Who knows if the abuse continues with other children to this day? This is a very disturbing book to read.
Terribly written. The content was interesting if you take out the filler. Because boy, was there a lot of filler. The geography, the terrain, the Acadians, the Stile where Acadia students hang out? The most interesting part of this book were the court transcripts, because the author didn't write them. Again, the content was interesting and horrifying... but this was painfully drawn out.
Chris Wallbruch
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A very good explanation of the societal background to this story explaining how the valley and the mountain came to become separate and distinct societies.

One has to wonder how many such families might exist or have existed in Appalachia and other more remote areas of North America.
Chloe Rowe
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Does absolutely anyone have a copy of this book they'd be willing to sell/send to me in Australia? I've been dying to read it but really don't want to pay $100+ just to read :(
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gruesome, devastating, and beautifully written. The crimes described here are almost unspeakable, but the courage of the children, especially Donna, is breath-taking.
Maggie-Jane Parker
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An extremely challenging read. It's hard to believe that this happened in Nova Scotia, but it speaks greatly to what prejudice can hide. I'd recommend to any friends who enjoy true crime reads.
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