Hope Valley

“A wonderful, thought-provoking read, very evocative of changing times in the South. In a time of turmoil and fear of the "other" in America, this novel speaks to love, acceptance and respect. The characters are wonderfully drawn and I really hated to see the story end. Highly recommend this work by this talented writer!” - Kathy Crutchfield

Hurley Cates, the 70-year-old protagonist of Hope Valley, is a retired factory worker who lives with his wife, Opal, on a hilltop farm on the edge of Durham, NC. Durham in the 1980s is undergoing rapid change from dying Southern factory town to a land of opportunity for new age entrepreneurs and unconventional youth. Hurley is determined to hold on to the heart of his world--his pristine farm with its 5-acre lawn and the house he built for his hapless son, Buddy. But when Buddy sells the house to a young female couple, Hurley's world threatens to unravel. He intends to tell the new neighbors how life is done on "the hill," but when he knocks on their door, Hurley is the one who is forever changed. READ MORE

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Connect with John

“This book is a rarity: an excellent memoir by a fresh, new voice.”

Lee Smith, author of Last Girls

“A riveting read. You will love this book, even if you don’t canoe.

Cliff Jacobson, author of Expedition Canoeing

“As the Old South turns into the New, traditional ways of life are challenged and changed. In John Manuel’s timely novel, two generations of one family come to a parting of the ways, and controversial neighbors arrive. Vivid characters enrich this archetypal story and make for a rich, rewarding read.”

Lee Smith, Dimestore, A Writer’s Life

“With humor and pathos, John Manuel captures a way of life fast fading from the American scene. This is a compelling and timeless story of the necessity of adapting to change.”

Anna Jean Mayhew, The Dry Grass of August

“The changes along Hope Valley Road in John Manuel’s novel mirror the cultural changes that are testing our nation. Some of his characters bend, some break. The ones still standing in the end persevere with strength, grace, and humility that we will all need to survive.”

Jay Erskine Leutze, Stand Up That Mountain

“After just a few pages, I rediscovered the joy of a well-crafted essay. By the time I’d finished the chapter, I’d already decided I’d find room for it in the magazine.”

Ross Prather, editor Canoe & Kayak

“A parable of conservation and community…a fast and absorbing ride.”

Lee Smith, author, The Last Girls

“What makes The Canoeist worthy is Manuel’s ability to put us in the boat with him, spectating from the stern.”

The News & Observer (Raleigh North Carolina)

“Gorgeously well-written.”

Wilmington Morning Star

“An honest take on a man’s path of self-discovery viewed through the lessons learned from a lifetime of running rivers.”

Paddler Magazine

“When Durham author and environmental advocate John Manuel decided to write a book about canoeing, he had a choice to make: write something that would be sold in bait shops, or write literature. The result is The Canoeist, part nature guide, part memoir, a combination that works …”

The Independent Weekly, Durham