Customer Reviews for

Serena

Average Rating 4
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Something missing in the e-book

First, this is a very good book. Being a native of the area the book is set in and hearing my grandparents talk about logging in the area made it even better for me. Serena is a captivatingly evil character. A friend loaned me the book and I liked it so much I bought...
First, this is a very good book. Being a native of the area the book is set in and hearing my grandparents talk about logging in the area made it even better for me. Serena is a captivatingly evil character. A friend loaned me the book and I liked it so much I bought a copy, then a copy for my nook. This is my favorite quote from the book. "She realized that being starved for words was the same as being starved for food, because both left a hollow place inside you, a place you needed filled to make it through another day." I was very perturbed to find it missing from the e-book. The quote is simply not there. This makes me wander what else I might be missing in my collection of e-books.

posted by BekahNC on September 10, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Beautiful writing, but melodrama prevails

This dramatic story of an ambitious, beautiful woman who manages her husband's timber holdings in the Smokies in a ruthlessly aggressive manner has an epic sweep. It is intricately plotted and beautifully written - I savoured the language and the Appalachian cadences of...
This dramatic story of an ambitious, beautiful woman who manages her husband's timber holdings in the Smokies in a ruthlessly aggressive manner has an epic sweep. It is intricately plotted and beautifully written - I savoured the language and the Appalachian cadences of the workers (who also act as a sort of Greek chorus, an effective device), and the descriptions of the mountains and the harsh conditions of the times (1930s), as well as fascinating detail on the lives and hard times of the workers themselves. About a third of the way through the book the exposition started to become sort of biblical: the bad people were REALLY bad, the powerless and meek completely so, and the killings started to mount up - to the extent that it all became somewhat cartoonish, like the boulder continually squashing Wile E. Coyote. In that sense it became a "he said, she said" kind of book, which is a shame, because a lot of loving work had obviously been put into researching the period and the logging industry of the time, and those sections of the book that did not topple over into high melodrama were exceptional. However, the single trait that defined each character ensured they remained two-dimensional and ultimately drove the plot down a predictable path.

posted by catpaw on November 23, 2009

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Page 1 of 5
  • Posted September 10, 2011

    Something missing in the e-book

    First, this is a very good book. Being a native of the area the book is set in and hearing my grandparents talk about logging in the area made it even better for me. Serena is a captivatingly evil character. A friend loaned me the book and I liked it so much I bought a copy, then a copy for my nook. This is my favorite quote from the book. "She realized that being starved for words was the same as being starved for food, because both left a hollow place inside you, a place you needed filled to make it through another day." I was very perturbed to find it missing from the e-book. The quote is simply not there. This makes me wander what else I might be missing in my collection of e-books.

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful writing, but melodrama prevails

    This dramatic story of an ambitious, beautiful woman who manages her husband's timber holdings in the Smokies in a ruthlessly aggressive manner has an epic sweep. It is intricately plotted and beautifully written - I savoured the language and the Appalachian cadences of the workers (who also act as a sort of Greek chorus, an effective device), and the descriptions of the mountains and the harsh conditions of the times (1930s), as well as fascinating detail on the lives and hard times of the workers themselves. About a third of the way through the book the exposition started to become sort of biblical: the bad people were REALLY bad, the powerless and meek completely so, and the killings started to mount up - to the extent that it all became somewhat cartoonish, like the boulder continually squashing Wile E. Coyote. In that sense it became a "he said, she said" kind of book, which is a shame, because a lot of loving work had obviously been put into researching the period and the logging industry of the time, and those sections of the book that did not topple over into high melodrama were exceptional. However, the single trait that defined each character ensured they remained two-dimensional and ultimately drove the plot down a predictable path.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2010

    Don't Bother

    The characters are hateful and the plot ridiculous. It is a complete waste of time. If I could I would give it no stars.

    7 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Predictable, heavy handed story.

    I expected more from a Pen Faulkner finalist. The story was ridiculously one-sided, the characters one-dimensional and so predictable that it was boring. I only finished the book to see if there were some redeeming quality that made it an award finalist. I couldn't find it...what a disappointing read!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    This is an intriguing look at the Depression from various perspectives

    During the Depression in Appalachia, wealthy lumber baron George Pemberton returns from Boston to Waynesville, North Carolina accompanied by his new wife, the orphan Serena. Waiting for him to disembark from the train is his sycophant partners, pregnant teenage kitchen hand Rachel Harmon and her outraged father. A drunken Harmon demands Pemberton take care of the child he sired. Instead encouraged by Serena, George kills him as he knows he is above the law.-------------- Pemberton destroys the land and its people and his wife Serena is as evil and avaricious as he is. She insures Rachel is scorned by everyone and that the brat once born remains the bastard he or she is. Meanwhile Serena also obtains the undying loyalty of foreman Galloway whose life she saved he becomes her slave willing to kill anyone if she asks however George actually likes having a son adoring Jacob and angering his wife.-------------- This is an intriguing look at the Depression from various perspectives. Especially fascinating is the poignant glimpse at horrific working conditions that make a case for a strong OSHA and yet in spite of the danger of death and maim the workers have forged a club like solidarity (mindful of soldiers in war conditions). Although the key cast is stereotyped the Pembertons especially Serena are evil caricatures of the abuse of wealth while in contrast poor single mom Rachel is kind and noble, fans will appreciate this powerful 1930s drama.--------------------- Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    This has to be the worst novel I've read yet. I skipped most of

    This has to be the worst novel I've read yet. I skipped most of the pages and would have just deleted from my nook but was curious to find out what fate had in store for the main characters. I have to put the book right up there with my top 5 books I've ever read, and I"ve been reading for 40 years.. Don't bother, not worht the money!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    highly recommended

    It was really good.I can see why they are making it into a movie.Just when you think I know what is going to happen...the ending was a big surprise.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2009

    Great Book

    This is a wonderful book which I highly recommend.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Disappointing

    Wow - Not expecting Serena to be the villainess that she was. I did enjoy reading about the history of our logging industry and how unbelievably hard it was for the men who worked in it. Then, just as now, there were the poor, hard-working people, and the very rich who selfishly wanted all the money and power and looked down on the workers. Made me feel sad. But, not much has changed has it? Wouldn't say I would recommnd this book to a friend, but I had to finish it to see what she would do next. Have to say her evilness and selfishness surprised me at the end even though I should have expected it. This was truly a woman without a heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2012

    Compelling, but a tad slow at times Ron Rash has written a great

    Compelling, but a tad slow at times
    Ron Rash has written a great book: interesting, original characters, shocking story, beautifully imagined settings.
    There are a decent number of "No way!" moments and Ron Rash does not hesitate to make decisions that most authors wouldn't.
    However, the story, as gripping as it is, starts to lag at points. It picks up right away usually, but certain sections are a bit tedious, especially the sections with Rachel and the sections with the workers.
    The chapters with Serena and Pemberton are excellent and worth the reading experience. It's a solid read if you are interesting in a good window into another era.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Loved ir T Loved it!

    First book by Ron Rash that I read, hes an amazing author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprising

    I was not expecting to like this, but I enjoyed it immensely. It was well-written and kept me captivated.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    RON RASH IS ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS ON THE PLANET!

    This is once again one of the greats from Ron Rash. He knows how to tell a story. He can make you feel that you are right in there along side the characters and in the setting. Can't wait for another one from Ron!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2010

    Enjoyed this book

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Something happens about two thirds of the way through and after this, I didn't want to put it down to even eat!! It was recommended to me by a Forest Ranger at a visitor's center near Gatlinburg. I had enjoyed other books based on characters in the Cataloochee area and this one did not let me down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    This is a "must read" suspenseful story!!

    Ron Rash has beautifully written a compelling tale of greed, murder and destruction. Set in a Smoky Mountains logging camp during the Great Depression, he tells the story of ruthless lumber baron, George Pemberton and his brutally ambitious bride, Serena. The book opens as the newlyweds arrive at the Waynesville, North Carolina train station. They are met by a pregnant former tryst and her vengeful father. Their encounter ends violently, with Serena providing a glimpse of her violent, cruel nature. Greedy for more land and wealth, they will do anything, including murder, to expand their vast lumber empire. Aggressively competing for the land is the U.S. government, eager to preserve it as a national park. As the story unfolds, Serena grows even more vicious, ultimately attempting to murder her husband's young son. Mr. Rash has brilliantly woven real-life historical figures and events with his intriguing fictional characters. His magnificent writing brings the spellbinding story to life. I was truly captivated by the vivid descriptions of the land, the era and the overall feeling of the times. Fascinating Appalachian folklore and insights into the local culture enhance the storyline. The hardships and dangers of a logging camp, and its brutal impact on the environment, are explicitly depicted. I found the complex debate over land use to be very thought-provoking. I absolutely loved this engrossing masterpiece and I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Decent Thriller . . .

    . . . especially if you like historic novels set in the rural South. I found myself more interested in what was happening to the poor young girl left fatherless and with a new baby than in the evil Serena. The only parts that drag are the long conversations between the logging crews - sometimes interesting, sometimes not. And yes, the ending is a bit melodramatic and unbelievable, and you pretty much know it's coming, but it IS fitting.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2014

    Ron Rash penned a painful to read, description of the desecratio

    Ron Rash penned a painful to read, description of the desecration of Appalachian forests. He also underscored the dire need for OSHA, as well as land preservation. There's probably truth in his extreme descriptions of the forest destruction in unregulated eras. His characters weren't quite a believable, such as a woman with no heart and a mountain man willing to become her slave. I was interested in the setting, as I live near western N.C. I have attended some excellent seminars at Western Carolina, where the author teaches. Serena was a good read for my book club.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    Good!

    I loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Slowest plotline ever

    One of the most boring books ive ever read. Incredibly slow plot line. Boring characters. Only one minor plot twist. I only finished it because i really hoped it would get better. Would not reccomend this at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    Good read, great characters but slow plot line in the middle

    This book has great characters that make you care and get attactched however the plot was slow with regards to some characters stories.

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