Movie/Book Review: The Awakening Land

The Awakening Land is a made-for-TV movie which first aired in 1978 and has only very recently been released for home viewing. Shortly after the American Revolution, the Lucketts, a backwoods family from Pennsylvania, travel to create a new home for themselves on the Ohio frontier. We first meet Sayward Luckett (Elizabeth Montgomery), the central character, as a 15-year-old girl. Although Sayward is completely illiterate, she marries the most erudite man to be found in the vicinity: Portius Wheeler (Hal Holbrook), aka “the solitary,” a former Massachussetts lawyer and an agnostic. The story follows Sayward, her family, and her neighbors from the early days of sparse settlement up through the creation of a thriving town.

A wonderful film, highly recommended. The movie was based on Conrad Richter’s trilogy The Trees, The Fields, and The Town. The books are also excellent…reading the first two of the series, it struck me that Richter is better at descriptions of the natural environment than at describing the inner life of the characters–however, this changes noticeably in the third book, where the characters become much more fully-developed. The books are also very much worth reading.

5 thoughts on “Movie/Book Review: The Awakening Land”

  1. for those that are interested, you can go out to and find (via a particular seller) many made-for-tv movies that aren’t otherwise available on dvd. quite a few tv series as well. typically they are vhs quality, but sometimes better quality is available.

  2. I recall reading these books, when I was in high school – and then being immensely flattered by a couple of commentators on my own books who compared my own trilogy and my writing style very favorably to Conrad Richter’s.
    I’ve a bit to go before I see a TV miniseries made out of the Adelsverein Trilogy, though … but if it were subtitled in German and shown in Germany, I think I might become the next Karl May…

  3. Sgt Mom…that’s actually not a bad marketing idea. Do I understand correctly that the Karl May books are still very popular in Germany:? Ralf, any input if you’re reading this?

    As a first step, maybe a German publisher would be interested in doing the Adelsverein trilogy in translation?

  4. I would love it if they would, David – I have already had emails from fans who read them in English and wanted to know if they were available in German, for the benefit of their non-English speaking friends and relations. And Karl May is still enormously popular – kind of like how Zane Grey is still hugely popular among fans of classical Westerns.
    My notion of publishing nirvana is to have the Adelsverein Trilogy make it big in Germany. They would love it, over there.

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