OVERRIDE

All the Living

A Novel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

One summer, a young woman travels with her lover to the isolated tobacco farm he has inherited after his family dies in a terrible accident. As Orren works to save his family farm from drought, Aloma struggles with the loneliness of farm life and must find her way in a combative, erotically-charged relationship with a grieving, taciturn man. A budding friendship with a handsome and dynamic young preacher further complicates her growing sense of dissatisfaction. As she considers whether to stay with Orren or to leave, she grapples with the finality of loss and death, and the eternal question of whether it is better to fight for freedom or submit to love.

All the Living has the timeless quality of a parable, but is also a perfect evocation of a time and place, a portrait of both age-old conflicts and modern life. It is an ode to the starve-acre Southern farm, the mountain landscape, and difficult love. In her lyrical and moving debut novel, C.E. Morgan recalls both the serenity of Marilynne Robinson and the shifting emotional currents and unashamed eroticism of James Salter. It is an unforgettable book from a major new voice.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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She had never lived in a house and now, seeing the thing, she was no longer sure she wanted to. It was the right house, she knew it was. It was as he had described. She shielded her eyes as she drove the long slope, her truck jolting and bucking as she approached. The bottomland yawned into view and she saw the fields where the young tobacco faltered on the drybeat earth, the ridge beyond. All around the soil had leached to chalky dust under the sun. She looked for the newer, smaller house that Orren had told her of, but she did not see it, only the old listing structure before her and the fields
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REVIEWS

Praise for All the Living

“Morgan's enchanting debut follows the travails of a young woman [and] her bereaved lover. Aloma, herself an orphan from a young age, leaves her job at the mission school where she was raised to help her taciturn boyfriend, Orren, with his family farm after his family is killed in a car accident. Once at the farm, he retreats into himself and working the land, leaving Aloma to wrestle with her desire to pursue her dream of being a concert pianist. As her relationship with Orren becomes “more collision than cohabitation,” Aloma finds in a local preacher a deep friendship that complicates her feelings for Orren, who drags his feet on marrying her. Young Aloma's growing understanding of love and devotion in the midst of deep despair is delicately and persuasively rendered through the lens of belief—be it in religion, relationships or music. Morgan's prose holds the rhythm of the local dialect beautifully, evoking the land, the farming lifestyle and Aloma's awakening with stirring clarity.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“As I read the opening pages of All The Living I was suddenly no longer in my study but gazing out at the leafy tobacco plants of a small Kentucky farm where a young couple are struggling to make their  living, and their lives.  In seemingly effortless prose, C.E. Morgan captures both the complexity and the simplicity of Orren's relentlessly hard work and Aloma's dangerous drift towards another man.  A wonderful debut.” —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street.
 

“Lack is everywhere in All the Living. Lack of rain, lack of cash, lack of other, less tangible things. From the first pages of C. E. Morgan’s gripping, sensual debut novel, the contemporary Kentucky countryside sprawls into view . . . On this haunted background, Morgan paints a lush portrait of love in a bleak landscape . . . Morgan at once probes and tempers this privation in rich, poetic prose. She knows the land and her characters in minute detail and sets them forth with startling, lyric certainty . . . Morgan attended divinity school, and there is a sense of conjuring in her language; her prose is both earthbound and hymnlike, with the slight inflection of southern scripture.” —Bookforum

 

“Morgan delivers an energetic novel ripe with both spiritual undercurrents and hardscrabble realism. Like Cormac McCarthy, she shows an attachment to working people, the land, and a kind of contemporary country timelessness.” —Venus Zine

 

“Shimmering with sensibility, Morgan’s stunning debut novel traces the emotional awakening of a young woman perched precariously between worlds and desires . . . Morgan pierces the skin of her characters with a depth and sensitivity seldom displayed by a first-time novelist, and the transfixing story arc is supported by beautifully descriptive passages and her unfailing ear for regional dialect. Brimming with discussion-worthy themes, this is sure to be a popular book-club choice.” —Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • C.E. Morgan studied English and voice at Berea College and holds a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. She lives in Kentucky.
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All the Living

A Novel

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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