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Serena

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Overview

A New York Times notable book of the year

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling novelist Ron Rash conjures a gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge with a ruthless, powerful, and unforgettable woman at its heart, set amid the wilds of 1930s North Carolina and against the backdrop of America's burgeoning environmental movement.

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Overview

A New York Times notable book of the year

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling novelist Ron Rash conjures a gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge with a ruthless, powerful, and unforgettable woman at its heart, set amid the wilds of 1930s North Carolina and against the backdrop of America's burgeoning environmental movement.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
“With bone-chilling aplomb, linguistic grace and the piercing fatalism of an Appalachian ballad, Mr. Rash lets the Pembertons’ new union generate ripple after ripple of astonishment.”
(Contemporary Literature) - About.com
"This is a must-read novel."
Anna Quindlen
“Beautifully written, utterly unforgettable. To my mind, this novel, as powerful and inexorable as a thunderstorm, is as good a piece of fiction as was published last year and a new classic in the category of love gone terribly wrong.”
Richard Price
“A gorgeous, brutal writer.”
Lee Smith
“Ron Rash’s SERENA will stand as one of the major American novels of this century. It is a flat-out masterpiece-mythic, terrifying, and beautiful.”
David Wroblewski
“From the moment she steps off the train, Serena Pemberton commands center stage in Ron Rash’s rough-hewn tale of unchecked ambition. Universal in scope, frightening in its brutality, Serena is an unflinching vision of blighted souls played out against the backdrop of a nearly-lost Appalachia.”
Julia Glass
“[Rash] has outdone himself. The story of this brilliant, ambitious, seductive woman is a searing tragedy of Shakespearean proportions—or, in simpler terms, a damn good book that will keep you awake far too late and, well after you’ve finished it, haunt your dreams.”
Jeffrey Lent
“Rash is a storyteller of the highest rank and SERENA confirms this from the opening sentence to the final page. An epic achievement.”
Pat Conroy
“Ron Rash’s new novel Serena catapults him to the front ranks of the best American novelists. This novel will make a wonderful movie, and the brave actress who plays Serena is a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination.”
People Magazine
"From that arresting opening…the violence escalates along with the tension in this absorbing story about rapacious greed in Depression-era Appalachia…Thrilling stuff."
People
“From that arresting opening…the violence escalates along with the tension in this absorbing story about rapacious greed in Depression-era Appalachia…Thrilling stuff.”
Arthur Phillips
“An Appalachian retelling of Macbeth, a thriller, a word-perfect evocation of an era and a people, a grim chapter in the history of conservation: if Serena doesn’t finally win Ron Rash the overdue attention of the national literary (and cinematic) establishments, I can’t imagine what they’re holding out for.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Masterfully written...The book is consistently heartbreaking in its portrayal of what humans are capable of…sprawling [and] engrossing.”
Huffington Post
“A harrowing tour de force that might be the most timely and dangerous novel released this fall... Rash has gone beyond any Southern gothic tale to weave a complex and riveting portrait in the tradition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez...brilliantly conceived.”
About.com (Contemporary Literature)
“This is a must-read novel.”
Seattle Times
“Beautifully written…”
People
“From that arresting opening…the violence escalates along with the tension in this absorbing story about rapacious greed in Depression-era Appalachia…Thrilling stuff.”
Charlotte Observer
“A powerful tale, well told, SERENA is enriched by Rash’s artful use of language. With just the right turn of phrase, dead-on details and subtle use of symbol, he delivers a story that will remain with readers long after the final page.”
Washington Post Book World
“Too hypnotic to break away from...And the final chapter is as flawless and captivating as anything I’ve read this year, a perfectly creepy shock that will leave you hearing nothing but the wind between the stumps.”
Ron Charles
Serena, the Lady Macbeth of Ron Rash's stirring new novel, wouldn't fret about getting out the damned spot. She wouldn't even wash her hands; she'd just lick it off. I couldn't take my eyes off this villainess…In addition to writing short stories, Rash is also a fine poet, and he brings a poet's concision and elliptical tendencies to this novel. As a result, these scenes and conversations constantly suggest more than they show, a technique that renders them alluring, sometimes erotic, often frightening. And his restraint is a necessity to keep this gothic tale from slipping into campiness. That's a real danger when you've got a beautiful murderess striding around the forest with a pet eagle on her wrist and a one-armed goon at her side. Frankly, it's sometimes difficult to catch the author's tone in these passages; the book seems deadly serious, but there are moments…when one suspects that Rash is rolling his eyes, too. But this is the challenge of the gothic novel: managing the accretion of excesses in a way that doesn't break the spell. The blind hag who delivers prophesies to the lumbermen, the insane preacher who warns of impending doom, even the portentous eclipse of the moon—all these details rise up just right.
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
With bone-chilling aplomb, linguistic grace and the piercing fatalism of an Appalachian ballad, Mr. Rash lets the Pembertons' new union generate ripple after ripple of astonishment…Among this novel's many wonders are Mr. Rash's fine ear for idiomatic, laconic talk and the startling contrast he creates between Serena and her new neighbors.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Depression-era lumber baron George Pemberton and his callous new wife, Serena, are venality incarnate in Rash's gothic fourth novel (after The World Made Straight), set, like the other three, in Appalachia. George-who coolly kills the furious father of Rachel Harmon, the teenage girl pregnant with George's bastard son-is an imperious entrepreneur laying waste to North Carolina timberland without regard for the well-being of his workers. His evil pales beside that of Serena, however. Rash's depictions of lumber camp camaraderie (despite deadly working conditions) are a welcome respite from Serena's unrelenting thirst for blood and wealth; a subplot about government efforts to buy back swaths of privately owned land to establish national parks injects real history into this implacably grim tale of greed and corruption gone wild-and of eventual, well-deserved revenge. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This is a violent story about ambition, privilege, and ruthlessness played out in an Appalachian timber camp in North Carolina during the Depression. The novel opens with the camp's wealthy owner, George Pemberton, returning from Boston with his new bride, Serena. He is met on a train platform by his business partners-and by camp kitchen worker Rachel, who is carrying his child (and meeting the train with her angry father). When George leaves the platform, Rachel's father is dead, and Rachel herself has been spurned and humiliated. The novel is richly detailed, and many of the characters are skillfully drawn by Rash (The World Made Straight). Unfortunately, though, the Pembertons-who are rapacious and monstrously self-absorbed-often seem one-dimensional and implausible. Serena is particularly hard to believe at times. Still, parts of the novel are superb, particularly the final section when Serena turns violently against Rachel and her son. The Pembertons create a wasteland in these beautiful mountains, and Rash also renders that loss powerfully. Though flawed, this manages to be an engaging read. Recommended for libraries with large fiction collections.
—Patrick Sullivan

Kirkus Reviews
The latest from Rash (The World Made Straight, 2006, etc.) is a fine melodrama about a wealthy homicidal couple, latter-day Macbeths, in Depression-era Appalachia. The book is an artful expansion of "Pemberton's Bride," the brilliant standout in Rash's story collection Chemistry (2007). The opening is unforgettable. Pemberton and his bride Serena return from Boston to Waynesville, in the North Carolina mountains. Waiting at the train station is Abe Harmon and his pregnant daughter Rachel. Harmon has vowed to kill her seducer Pemberton, but the latter knifes the drunk old man to death as Serena watches approvingly. Pemberton has no fear of the consequences, for he owns the lumber company on which Waynesville depends and has the local officials on his payroll, all except his nemesis, sheriff McDowell. He has a worthy mate in Serena, daughter of a Colorado lumber baron; her entire family died in the 1918 influenza epidemic. No sentimentalist, she burnt down the family home before moving East. Eventually she too will bloody her hands, killing an innocent and strengthening her bond with Pemberton. The mercilessly exploited workers soon realize she is Pemberton's full partner; his former partner is killed in a hunting "accident." When she saves the life of a foreman, Galloway (felling trees is dangerous work), he becomes her lifelong slave, and hit man; the incompetent doctor who causes Serena to miscarry is just one of Galloway's victims. But the novel is not just a trail of blood. Rash also focuses on the quiet dignity of Rachel (now a single parent raising Jacob, Pemberton's son) and shows an unforced reverence for nature, hideously despoiled by Pemberton's relentless clear-cutting. Thelumber king's one soft spot is his feeling for Jacob, but that proves too much for Serena. The last hundred pages are thrilling, as mother and son take flight; McDowell supports them heroically; and Pemberton . . . well, see for yourself. Should be a breakthrough for this masterful storyteller. Agent: Michael Radulescu/Marly Rusoff Literary Agency
The Barnes & Noble Review
If there was an award for "Poet Laureate of Appalachia," Ron Rash would certainly win it. In his fourth novel, Serena, Rash revisits the setting of his other books, this time to imbue the hills and hollers, as well as the hardscrabble inhabitants of the Depression-era North Carolina mountains with a lyric elegance that belies the violence of the plot. Plunging in straightaway (pun intended), the story begins with a deadly knife duel as George Pemberton steps off the train and into a tussle with the father of his former mistress, now pregnant with his child. Pemberton's new bride, Serena, is eager to establish herself as her husband's right hand, both in the business of overseeing a vast lumber empire, as well as dealing with the mother of a potentially pesky bastard. She steps in, coolly removes the knife from the chest of the dead man, and hands it to his daughter with advice to sell it. "It's all you'll ever get from my husband and me." This astonishing juxtaposition of Serena's cold, calculating beauty coupled with Pemberton's sanguine earthiness is just one example of how deftly Rash has entwined his narrative's poetic tenor with horrific accidents and the foretelling of chilling murders: "McDowell was in the room's one cell pulling a dingy mattress off its spring base. As the sheriff did so, dust motes floated upward, suspended in the cell window's barred light as if in a web." As the Pembertons push their workers (often in harsh conditions) to decimate the snake-infested forest in the name of wealth and power, the result is this sometimes gothic, sometimes elegiac, altogether frightening tale that lays bare the consequence of ruthless ambition, while asking simply, "So what happens when there ain't nothing left alive at all?" --Lydia Dishman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061470844
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 371
  • Sales rank: 31,240
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.
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Read an Excerpt


Serena

A Novel


By Ron Rash
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Ron Rash
All right reserved.



ISBN: 9780061470851


Chapter One

When Pemberton returned to the North Carolina mountains after three months in Boston settling his father's estate, among those waiting on the train platform was a young woman pregnant with Pemberton's child. She was accompanied by her father, who carried beneath his shabby frock coat a bowie knife sharpened with great attentiveness earlier that morning so it would plunge as deep as possible into Pemberton's heart.

The conductor shouted "Waynesville" as the train shuddered to a halt. Pemberton looked out the window and saw his partners on the platform, both dressed in suits to meet his bride of two days, an unexpected bonus from his time in Boston. Buchanan, ever the dandy, had waxed his mustache and oiled his hair. His polished bluchers gleamed, the white cotton dress shirt fresh-pressed. Wilkie wore a gray fedora, as he often did to protect his bald pate from the sun. A Princeton Phi Beta Kappa key glinted on the older man's watch fob, a blue silk handkerchief tucked in his breast pocket.

Pemberton opened the gold shell of his watch and found the train on time to the exact minute. He turned to his bride, who'd been napping. Serena's dreams had been especially troubling last night. Twice he'd been waked by her thrashing, her fierce latching onto him until she'd fallen back asleep. He kissed her lightly onthe lips and she awoke.

"Not the best place for a honeymoon."

"It suits us well enough," Serena said, leaning into his shoulder. "We're here together, which is all that matters."

Pemberton inhaled the bright aroma of Tre Jur talcum and remembered how he'd not just smelled but tasted its vividness on her skin earlier that morning. A porter strolled up the aisle, whistling a song Pemberton didn't recognize. His gaze returned to the window.

Next to the ticket booth Harmon and his daughter waited, Harmon slouching against the chestnut board wall. It struck Pemberton that males in these mountains rarely stood upright. Instead, they leaned into some tree or wall whenever possible. If none was available they squatted, buttocks against the backs of their heels. Harmon held a pint jar in his hand, what remained of its contents barely covering the bottom. The daughter sat on the bench, her posture upright to better reveal her condition. Pemberton could not recall her first name. He wasn't surprised to see them or that the girl was with child. His child, Pemberton had learned the night before Pemberton and Serena left Boston. Abe Harmon is down here saying he has business to settle with you, business about his daughter, Buchanan had said when he called. It could be just drunken bluster, but I thought you ought to know.

"Our welcoming party includes some of the locals," Pemberton said to his bride.

"As we were led to expect," Serena said.

She placed her right hand on his wrist for a moment, and Pemberton felt the calluses on her upper palm, the plain gold wedding band she wore in lieu of a diamond. The ring was like his in every detail except width. Pemberton stood and retrieved two grips from the overhead compartment. He handed them to the porter, who stepped back and followed as Pemberton led his bride down the aisle and the steps to the platform. There was a gap of two feet between the steel and wood. Serena did not reach for his hand as she stepped onto the planks.

Buchanan caught Pemberton's eye first, gave him a warning nod toward Harmon and his daughter before acknowledging Serena with a stiff formal bow. Wilkie took off his fedora. At five-nine, Serena stood taller than either man, but Pemberton knew other aspects of Serena's appearance helped foster Buchanan and Wilkie's obvious surprise—pants and boots instead of a dress and cloche hat, sun-bronzed skin that belied Serena's social class, lips and cheeks untinted by rouge, hair blonde and thick but cut short in a bob, distinctly feminine yet also austere.

Serena went up to the older man and held out her hand. Though he was, at seventy, over twice her age, Wilkie stared at Serena like a smitten schoolboy, the fedora pressed against his sternum as if to conceal a heart already captured.

"Wilkie, I assume."

"Yes, yes, I am," Wilkie stammered.

"Serena Pemberton," she said, her hand still extended.

Wilkie fumbled with his hat a moment before freeing his right hand and shaking Serena's.

"And Buchanan," Serena said, turning to the other partner. "Correct?"

"Yes."

Buchanan took her proffered hand and cupped it awkwardly in his.

Serena smiled. "Don't you know how to properly shake hands, Mr. Buchanan?"

Pemberton watched with amusement as Buchanan corrected his grip, quickly withdrew his hand. In the year that Boston Lumber Company had operated in these mountains, Buchanan's wife had come only once, arriving in a pink taffeta gown that was soiled before she'd crossed Waynesville's one street and entered her husband's house. She'd spent one night and left on the morning train. Now Buchanan and his wife met once a month for a weekend in Richmond, as far south as Mrs. Buchanan would travel. Wilkie's wife had never left Boston.

Pemberton's partners appeared incapable of further speech. Their eyes shifted to the leather chaps Serena wore, the beige oxford shirt and black jodhpurs. Serena's proper diction and erect carriage confirmed that she'd attended finishing school in New En-gland, as had their wives. But Serena had been born in Colorado and lived there until sixteen, child of a timber man who'd taught his daughter to shake hands firmly and look men in the eye as well as ride and shoot. She'd come east only after her parents' deaths.

The porter laid the grips on the platform and walked back toward the baggage car that held Serena's Saratoga trunk and Pemberton's smaller steamer trunk.

"I assume Campbell got the Arabian to camp," Pemberton said.

"Yes," Buchanan said, "though it nearly killed young Vaughn. That horse isn't just big but quite spirited, 'cut proud' as they say."



Continues...


Excerpted from Serena by Ron Rash Copyright © 2008 by Ron Rash. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 92 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 92 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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 16 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 8 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

    6 out of 8 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 7 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.

    2 out of 2 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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  • 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.

    2 out of 2 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!

    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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  • Posted November 3, 2014

    ¿¿the work bell rang. The men left so quickly their cast-down fo

    “…the work bell rang. The men left so quickly their cast-down forks and spoons seemed to retain a slight vibration, like pond water rippling after a splash”




    Serena is the fourth novel by American author, Ron Rash. The mountains of North Carolina in the early 1930s were the scene of competing land grabs: timber getters like George Pemberton who were determined to make their fortunes clear-felling the slopes; miners like Harris who stripped the denuded land of its minerals; and the government, funded by wealthy patrons like Rockerfeller and Vanderbilt, committed to creating National Parks. Logging in this remote wilderness presented many hazards but the Depression ensured that labour was cheap and plentiful.




     It is against this background that Rash sets the story of Serena, newly wed to Pemberton and intent on proving herself equal to any worker in this dangerous place. From the first she shows herself to be extremely capable, but also single-minded, calculating, fiercely possessive and completely ruthless. When she perceives a threat to her business or her marriage, she acts without hesitation, fear or favour. The story is told from three perspectives: George Pemberton, thoroughly enthralled by Serena; sixteen-year-old Rachel Harmon, mother of a son to Pemberton; and foreman Snipes, gauging the mood of his crew of sawyers and offering perceptive comments on their suspicions & superstitions.




    Rash gives the reader an original plot, a story that ticks along steadily, eliciting occasional gasps at Serena’s despicable actions, until it builds to a gripping climax. His characters are multi-faceted; he includes many interesting historical facts and his love of the North Carolina landscape and the mountain dwellers is apparent in the wonderful descriptive prose: “The land’s angle became more severe, the light waning, streaked as if cut with scissors and braided to the ridge piece by piece” and “… the land increasingly mountainous, less inhabited, the occasional slant of pasture like green felt woven to a rougher fabric” are two examples. 




    Rash gives his young mother some insightful observations: “…what made losing someone you loved bearable was not remembering but forgetting. Forgetting the small things first, the smell of soap her mother had bathed with…the sound of her mother’s voice….the color of her hair……everything you forgot made that person less alive inside you until you could finally endure it” and “It struck her how eating was a comfort during a hard time because it reminded you that there had been other days, good days, when you’d eaten the same thing. Reminded you there were good days in life, when precious little else did”




    Rash has once again produced a brilliant novel, and his fans will not be disappointed. It will be interesting to see what Hollywood does with this riveting tale.

    1 out of 1 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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  • 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 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 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2014

    Is that Jennifer Lawrence?

    Haha that is all I get out of this book. LOL?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2014

    Disillusioned

    The book is very well written; however, I was not moved by the author nor did I expect the ending to be so satisfying. I hope the movie captures all the character as portrayed in the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    Hard To Get Through

    The description lead me to believe this would be an all consuming book. I had to get to page 246 before I figures out what was going on. The authors writing style is very choppy and hard to follow at times. The best part of the book were the final pages when you found out that Serena was an actual person.

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