Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Swallow Press Book

Goshen Road
A Novel

By Bonnie Proudfoot

Selected for the Women's National Book Association's Great Group Reads program. · Longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best Debut Novel · Winner of the 2022 Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia (WCoNA) Book of the Year

“[Bonnie Proudfoot] helps us enter into the realities of Appalachian life, how people both eked out a life, and really lived.”

Bob on Books

“Proudfoot is a talented wordsmith, and her lyrical writing is the highlight of her debut novel. She details the landscape of the mountains and dirt roads with tenderness and detail, and creates complex, rich characters.”


“Proudfoot reveals the strength, nobility, and despair of those who want to climb out of the hollow yet find themselves at the bottom of a long, unkempt, winding road.”

Janet E. Irvin, Ohioana Quarterly, Spring 2020

Goshen Road is a rich, multigenerational tale exploring women’s expanding roles in a rural environment. The women are afforded few opportunities here, and they often settle for much less than they deserve, but they are resourceful and ultimately as resilient and reliable as the untamable land.”

Marie Manilla, author of Weatherford Award-winning The Patron Saint of Ugly

Goshen Road is an elegiac, unvarnished, and empathetic portrait of one working-class family over two decades in rural West Virginia, with sisters Dessie and Billie Price as its urgently beating heart. Bonnie Proudfoot captures them, their husbands, and their children as they balance on the divide between Appalachia old and new, struggling for survival and reconciling themselves with past hurts and future uncertainties as the economy and culture shift around them.

The story opens in 1967 with a logging accident and the teenaged Lux Cranfield’s headlong plunge into the courtship of Dessie—a leap he takes not only in the wake of his near-death experience but to exchange his bitter home life for a future with the Prices, a family that appears to have the stability and peace that his own lacks. Within the year Lux and Dessie marry. Meanwhile, Dessie’s rebellious younger sister, Billie, fights her way through adolescence with an eye toward an escape of her own, only to land with Lux’s friend Alan Ray Munn and settle into a life of hardship. Ultimately, the voices and passions of Dessie, Billie, Lux, Alan Ray, and the Cranfield children build on one another to create an unforgettable chorus about the promises and betrayals of love—and what it takes to preserve a family when everything else is uncertain.

Bonnie Proudfoot moved to the Appalachian region in 1979 and has lived there since, teaching for many years at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. She is a fiction writer, a poet, and a glass artist. This is her first book.   More info →


Chapter 1




Review in Ohioana Quarterly, Spring 2020


Order a print copy

Paperback · $15.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $19.95 · Save 20% ($15.96)

Hardcover · $35.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $44.95 · Save 20% ($35.96)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Buy an eBook

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of Goshen Road

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


To request instructor exam/desk copies, email Jeff Kallet at

To request media review copies, email Laura Andre at

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Related Subjects




Retail price: $19.95, T.
Release date: January 2020
220 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $44.95, S.
Release date: January 2020
220 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Release date: January 2020
220 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Goshen Road

Goshen Road is rich with life and characters who command our attention. These beautiful intertwined stories introduce a wise and wonderful voice.”

Gail Galloway Adams, author of The Purchase of Order

“Bonnie Proudfoot writes the kind of book that means something, a book that carries weight in a way that only serious fiction can. Her words delight and move, but they do much more than that. She interrogates the truth of the people and place of Appalachia. Her debut should be savored by those who admire timeless fiction.”

Charles Dodd White, author of In The House of Wilderness

“(Goshen Roadcaptured me from the get-go…. Bonnie Proudfoot is exceptional at setting the scene, so I felt like I could envision what was happening…. If somebody asks you, ‘Why don’t working class Appalachians just move somewhere they can get a good job,’ tell them to read this book.”

Change Seven Magazine

“It takes no more than the opening sentence of Goshen Road to bring vividly to life the ruggedly forested mountains of West Virginia and the resolute people who make their lives among them. Told alternately through the voices of a family, Proudfoot does not merely allow readers to witness her characters’ lives, but brings us among them as visitors. Her characters are not the “other,” an archetype that is the bane of Appalachian Literature; they are not the meth addicts or oxycontin dealers that pollute so much of what is written about our region today. The community of Goshen Road is economically depressed, but it is not damned by impoverishment; its citizens do not suffer from ‘learned helplessness.’ They care for family and community and in their lives evoke the heroics of everyday struggle.”

Chris Holbrook, author of Upheaval: Stories

Goshen Road is like a detailed and lovely landscape painting, with much to draw—and keep—us in. With a fine attunement to the ironies of human behavior, Proudfoot treats her characters with dignity, honors their complexity, and renders them with poetry.”

Mark Brazaitis, author of The Incurables

“Bonnie Proudfoot’s novel-in-stories unerringly drills down to the bedrock of human relationships. How do we love? How do we make a living? Proudfoot never bewails her characters’ choices, but rather acknowledges their failures while admiring their dreams and creative, intelligent loyalty to each other and their West Virginia home.”

Meredith Sue Willis, author of Their Houses and Out of the Mountains

“As a deep dive into the lives and struggles of working people, the novel feels singularly capable—in a way that so many of the last four years’ worth of newspaper and magazine articles were not—of explaining our troubled nation to itself. Largely because the book is built as a series of stories, it forces us to move through time in a jump-cut sort of way. The powerful affect Proudfoot achieves with this technique throws the impact of large-scale socio-economic changes on her characters into stark relief.”

Damian Dressick, Pittsburgh Book Review

Related Titles

Cover of 'Brides in the Sky'

Brides in the Sky
Stories and a Novella
By Cary Holladay

Each of the crystalline worlds Cary Holladay brings us in the short stories and novella that make up Brides in the Sky has sisterhood, in all its urgency and peril, at its heart. She crafts these stories with subtle humor, a stunning sense of place, and an unerring eye for character.

Short Stories (single author) · Women Authors · Fiction

Cover of 'Maggie Boylan'

Maggie Boylan
By Michael Henson

Set in rural America amid an epidemic of opiate abuse, this collection of stories tells of a woman’s search for her own peculiar kind of redemption. Addict, thief, and liar, Maggie Boylan is queen of profanity, a hungry trickster. But she is also a woman of deep compassion and strength. Her journey is by turns frightening, funny, and deeply moving.

Fiction · Appalachia · Midwest

Cover of 'Fire Is Your Water'

Fire Is Your Water
A Novel
By Jim Minick

At age twenty, Ada’s reputation as a faith healer defines her in her rural Pennsylvania community. But on the day in 1953 that her family’s barn is consumed by flame, her identity is upended: for the first time, she fears death and doubts God. Fire Is Your Water, acclaimed memoirist Jim Minick’s first novel, builds on magical realism and social observation to offer an insider’s glimpse into the culture of Appalachia.

Fiction · Appalachia