The Cove: A Novel

The Cove: A Novel

4.0 44
by Ron Rash
     
 

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“Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today’s politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer’s writer who writes for others.”
—Colum McCann

“Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; The Cove solidifies

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Overview

“Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today’s politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer’s writer who writes for others.”
—Colum McCann

“Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; The Cove solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists.”
—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls

Here is a magnificent tale that captures the wondrous beauty of nature and love—and the darkness of superstition and fear—from one of America’s most exciting contemporary novelists. With The Cove, Ron Rash, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Serena, returns to the Appalachian milieu he has previously so memorably evoked. A two-time O. Henry Prize winner for his short fiction—and recipient of the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Story Award and the 2010 SIBA Book Award for his story collection Burning Bright—Rash can expect more honors for The Cove, a novel that brilliantly explores often dangerous notions of patriotism during wartime. This story of a love affair doomed in the rising turmoil of WWI resonates powerfully in today’s world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran novelist Rash (Serena) knits his newest rustic yarn in North Carolina during WWI. Located near the hardscrabble village of Mars Hill, the cove is shrouded in superstition, “a place where ghosts and fetches wandered.” Nearby, the alienated Laurel Shelton lives with her wounded war veteran brother in an isolated cabin. While out doing laundry by the creek one day, Laurel discovers Walter Smith, an illiterate, mute flutist en route to New York City, who has been incapacitated by hornet stings. As she nurses the mysterious Walter back to health, Laurel begins to fall in love. “Waiting for her life to begin,” she clings to Walter and the future he represents. However, local Army recruiter Chauncey Feith threatens to ruin all that Laurel and Walter hope for. A rabid anti-German agitator, he begins to suspect that Walter is not who he claims to be. Driven by fear, patriotism, and bloodlust, Chauncey progresses from arrogant drunk to a craven yet dangerous force. The gripping plot, gothic atmosphere, and striking descriptions, in particular of the dismal cove, make this a top-notch story of an unusual place and its fated and fearful denizens. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates Inc. (Apr.)
USA Today
“A gently beautiful new novel…Rash, a native of Appalachia, has written a southern tragedy, with a self-consciously Shakespearean structure and economy…. [A] powerful novel, with some of the mysterious moral weight of Carson McCullers, along with a musical voice that belongs to Rash alone.”
Entertainment Weekly
“This book ranks among the best backwoods fiction since 2006’s Winter’s Bone.... [A] gripping novel…[not] just an elegant work of literary fiction, written in a voice that’s hauntingly simple and Southern; it’s also a riveting mystery.”
Washington Post
“Rash is particularly good at capturing the hazy space where otherworldly phantoms mingle with plain old human meanness…Rash never lays down a dull or clunky line…at the very end…these pages ignite, and suddenly we’re racing through a conflagration of violence that no one seems able to control except Rash.”
People
“In Rash’s skilled hands, even farm chores take on a meditative beauty.”
Janet Maslin
“Mr. Rash’s writing is so richly atmospheric…[he] can make words take wing…. A breathless sequence of events lead the book to its devastating final sentence. And that sentence affirms Mr. Rash’s reputation for writerly miracles.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“[B]eautifully crafted…In [the cove’s] story, we hear the unique voice of a region made all the more poignant for how few will ever hear it exactly this way again.”
Asheville Citizen-Times
“Rash masterfully poises suspense elements and gives full reign to other strengths: language, awe, symbolism, cast of characters and mountain knowledge…. It’s a book you could read again to savor the writing. Rash has found a subject that compellingly represents his vision—beauty shadowed by foreboding; and he’s made it symphonic.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Rash effortlessly summons the rugged Appalachian landscape as well as the small-mindedness and xenophobia of a country in the grip of patriotic fervor, drawing striking parallels to the heated political rhetoric of today. A powerful novel that skillfully overlays its tragic love story with pointed social commentary.”
Colum McCann
“Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today’s politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer’s writer who writes for others.”
Daniel Woodrell
“Ron Rash uses language with such apparently effortless skill that it is as though he found words in his barn as a child and has been training them to fit his needs ever since....Rash throws a big shadow now and it’s only going to get bigger and soon.”
Jennifer Haigh
“I wish the whole world spoke the way Ron Rash’s characters do. Read him for his poetry and great humanity. Just read him.”
Richard Russo
“Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; his new novel, The Cove, solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists.”
The Desert News
“The Cove is a beautifully written book that uses heartfelt characters to describe the difficult life of a lonely, misunderstood young woman.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune
“The Cove, the laconically beautiful new novel by Ron Rash, actually is lyrical, in the dictionary sense of having to do with song or poetry. Rash’s gorgeous prose is as close to song as you’ll find without an accompanying score . . .”
Open Letters Monthly / Like Fire (blog)
“Ron Rash has a deft touch in describing both landscape and household, and his use of evocatively specific regionalisms never edges into condescension or vernacular.”
Library Journal
In this haunting, powerfully moving novel, set in the rural backwoods of North Carolina near the end of World War I, Rash returns to the Appalachian byways that figure in much of his highly acclaimed fiction (e.g., Serena; One Foot in Eden). At the center of this novel is an isolated piece of farmland that everyone in town believes is cursed. The pain and violence evident here are caused not by a curse, however, but by human cruelty. Ostracized and lonely, Laurel Shelton lives on the farm with her brother, newly returned from war. Then a stranger appears, mute but carrying a silver flute, and Laurel seems finally to have found love. But their happiness is tragically short-lived. VERDICT Rash develops his story masterfully; the large cast of characters is superbly realized, as is the xenophobia that accompanies the war, and Rash brings the various narrative threads together at the conclusion of the novel with formidable strength and pathos. Essential for fans of literary fiction.—Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT
Kirkus Reviews
Lonely young woman meets mysterious stranger. What might have been trite and formulaic is anything but in Rash's fifth novel, a dark tale of Appalachian superstition and jingoism so good it gives you chills. Three miles out of town, in the North Carolina mountains, a massive cliff rears up. Beneath it is a cove, gloom-shrouded and cursed, so the locals believe, though all the out-of-state Sheltons knew was that the farmland was cheap. The story takes place in 1918. Both parents have died and their grown children, Hank and Laurel, are trying to cope. Hank is back from the war, missing one hand. Laurel has a purple birthmark; she has been ostracized by the townsfolk of Mars Hill as a witch. Rash's immersion in country ways and idioms gives his work a rare integrity. One day Laurel hears a stranger playing his flute in the woods; the sound is mournful but mesmerizing. The next time she finds him prone, stung by hornets, and nurses him back to health at the cabin. (What the reader knows, but Laurel doesn't, is that he's on the run from a barracks.) A note in his pocket tells her his name is Walter and he's mute. Laurel can live with that. She has low expectations, but maybe her life is about to begin. Hank hires Walter to help him fence the pasture; he proves an excellent worker. Laurel confesses her "heart feelings:" Walter is encouraging; Laurel cries tears of joy. Meanwhile in town Sgt. Chauncey Feith, a bombastic, deeply insecure army recruiter and faux patriot, is stoking fear of spies in their midst as local boys return from the front, some in terrible shape. Eventually Laurel learns Walter's identity; his back story is fascinating, but only a spoiler would reveal more. Let's just say the heartbreaking climax involves a lynch mob led by Feith; perhaps the cove really is cursed. Even better than the bestselling Serena (2008), for here Rash has elevated melodrama to tragedy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061804199
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,353,350
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.02(d)

What People are saying about this

Daniel Woodrell
“Ron Rash uses language with such apparently effortless skill that it is as though he found words in his barn as a child and has been training them to fit his needs ever since....Rash throws a big shadow now and it’s only going to get bigger and soon.”
Jennifer Haigh
“I wish the whole world spoke the way Ron Rash’s characters do. Read him for his poetry and great humanity. Just read him.”
Colum McCann
“Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today’s politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer’s writer who writes for others.”
Richard Russo
“Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; his new novel, The Cove, solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists.”

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