"In The Road John Ehle's skill as a storyteller brings an early episode of road building in the North Carolina mountains to rich and vivid life. Hardship and humor, suffering and dreams are the balance for survival in a landscape that makes harsh demands on its intruders. Ehle lets us experience this place, people, and past in a fully realized novel."—Wilma Dykeman
"The Road is a strong novel by one of our most distinguished authors. Muscular, vivid, and pungent, it is broad in historical scope and profound in its human sympathies. We welcome its return with warm pleasure."—Fred Chappell
Originally published in 1967, The Road is epic historical fiction at its best. At the novel's center is Weatherby Wright, a railroad builder who launches an ambitious plan to link the highlands of western North Carolina with the East. As a native of the region, Wright knows what his railway will mean to the impoverished settlers. But to accomplish his grand undertaking he must conquer Sow Mountain, "a massive monolith of earth, rock, vegetation and water, an elaborate series of ridges which built on one another to the top."
Wright's struggle to construct the railroad—which requires tall trestles crossing deep ravines and seven tunnels blasted through shale and granite—proves to be much more than an engineering challenge. There is opposition from a child evangelist, who preaches that the railroad is the work of the devil, and there is a serious lack of funds, which forces Wright to use convict labor. How Wright confronts these challenges and how the mountain people respond to the changes the railroad brings to their lives make for powerfully compelling reading.
The Author: A native of Asheville, North Carolina, John Ehle has written seventeen novels and works of nonfiction. His books include The Land Breakers, The Journey of August King, The Winter People, and Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Among the honors he has received are the Lillian Smith Prize and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award.