Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Robert Morgan's "Brave Enemies"

Robert Morgan is Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell University. He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, essays, short stories, and novels; his novel Gap Creek was a selection of the Oprah Book Club and a New York Times bestseller.

Morgan applied the "Page 99 Test" to his novel Brave Enemies and reported the following:
On page 99 of Brave Enemies Josie, the narrator, describes the overwhelming physical attraction she and the young John Trethman feel for each other. As a minister he resists at first, and as a formerly abused woman she is reluctant at the start also. But their growing affection and desire overcome all obstacles.

"He reached his other hand and put it on my other breast, and then he hugged me closer to him.

"It was the first time I really knew what a touch could mean. A touch connects you and makes you feel a part of everything. A touch makes you feel at the center of something."

On page 99 Josie and John begin to celebrate an idyll in the wilderness in the fall of 1780, just before he is kidnapped by the British and accused of being a spy. In these violent times in piedmont Carolina in the American Revolution, Josie dresses as a man for her own safety as she goes in search of her husband. Not knowing if John is dead or alive, she joins the patriot militia pretending to be a man. They march toward South Carolina where Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, at the direction of Lord Cornwallis, is conducting a campaign of terror over the countryside.

Meanwhile John has not been hanged, but forced to serve as chaplain in Tarleton's army. Without knowing it, Josie and John are converging toward the Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781, one of the most decisive victories American forces won in the fight for independence, leading to the final victory at Yorktown.

In Brave Enemies I tried to make the American Revolution intimate, local, personal, through the lives and love of John and Josie, against the backdrop of raging events that changed our history, at the threshold of the Republic.
Robert Morgan is a native of the North Carolina mountains, where he was raised on land settled by his Welsh ancestors.

Visit his official website, and read an excerpt from Brave Enemies.

--Marshal Zeringue