The Cove

( 42 )

Overview

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch.

Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter and he is mute–and Laurel...

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Overview

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch.

Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter and he is mute–and Laurel experiences true companionship and happiness for the first time.

But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and danger reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love alone may not be enough to protect them.

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Editorial Reviews

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.”
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.”
People Magazine
"In Rash’s skilled hands, even farm chores take on a meditative beauty."
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.”
/ Like Fire (blog) - Open Letters Monthly
"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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Booklist
"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."
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.)
Library Journal
In the rural North Carolina mountains, Laurel, an outcast and supposed witch, lives with her brother, maimed during World War I, in a cove the townspeople believe is haunted. She comes upon a mute stranger in the woods playing a silver flute. Their meeting changes the lives of these three protagonists in unexpected and glorious ways. VERDICT Haunting, poetic and wise, Rash's (Serena) latest novel is a book to savor on long summer days.
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: 9780061804205
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/6/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 203,347
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.68 (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 four other prizewinning novels, The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and five 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 42 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Ethereal love story

    There is an ethereal feel to this story, as if the Cove was part of another world. I found myself drawn in by Laurel, a sad and lonely young woman lost to the Cove. Laurel is rather a mix of simple and complex. She speaks simply, she lives simply, she loves simply. However she is not simple-minded. Intelligent and strong, life in the Cove has not broken her. Devoted to a brother that is her world and ostracized by her community, she clings every day to every minute glimpse of beauty that she can find, few as they are in such a desolate landscape.

    Her brother Hank is an honorable man who was horribly wounded in the war against the Germans. He and his sister are both viewed as outsiders, living in a Cove that most feel is cursed. However while Hank returns from the war a hero and sees a better life in his future, his sister Laurel will never be anything but cursed, marked at birth as a witch.

    The Cove is viewed by the town as cursed, but in seeing the Cove through Laurel’s eyes I came to love it. Quiet and peaceful, it is free of people, since everyone fears it. There are some areas completely in shadow where light never falls, but there are also pockets of beauty where butterflies flit and colorful parakeets skirt across the sky as sunlight glistens in a hidden copse. There is always beauty in life. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it.

    This is a story of judgement-- people passing judgement that they have no right to pass-- and the story slowly reveals itself, like the peeling of an onion, layer by layer.

    I would consider this story to have a didactic theme, with a moral lesson hiding in the story. However there is also something cautionary about it. This story left me feeling melancholic yet hopeful.

    My final word: As the title would indicate, the setting in this story is everything. The ethereal feel of the Cove, the darkness, dankness, with pockets of beauty, is haunting. Laurel is one of these hidden beautiful bits. Unfortunately few could see the beauty of the Cove, nor that of Laurel. But I definitely felt the beautiful spirit of this story. I loved it!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 5, 2012

    I picked this book because I love Appalachian Fiction novels, pl

    I picked this book because I love Appalachian Fiction novels, plus I was a student at WCU some 20 years ago and knew the author, and I knew he had an incredible reputation regarding his knowledge of Appalachian History and working with the Mountain Heritage Center at WCU. I must say, I was extremely pleased with this writing! The book kept me on edge throughout the entire read and it left me wanting more! It stirred emotions in me like no other book I have ever read. I felt love, anger, betrayal and more when reading The Cove. What I thought was to be a mystery thriller turned in to be one of the best, most poetic love stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The character of Laurel is amazing. Her strength personifies her strong Appalachin heritage and her courage to love is endearing. I would be thrilled to see The Cove made into a movie, but they could leave out NOTHING! Not only would I see it at the theatre, I'd buy it for my collection. It is one book that I will pass on to my daughters to read for sure!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Compelling story

    Well written and a fascinating story about the backdrop of World War I and its impact on a poor, rural backwater community. After finishing the story, I had to read Rash's Prologue again. Finally made sense.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Haunting work by Ron Rash

    Powerful piece of work by Rash. He described this area of the country perfectly, allowing me to really feel as if I am part of the story. My only complaint is that I feel like the last part was a bit rushed--the story seemed to end too quickly for characters I had suffered with so much along the way. But overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Appalachian fiction, eloquently described settings, or WWI historical fiction.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Haunting

    The Cove is an atmospheric tale set in rural North Carolina during the last days of World War I. Shunned by the locals who think she's a witch, Laurel spends all her time in the shadow of a bleak cliff face, searching for tiny moments of beauty and peace. When a stranger appears in need of help, she and her brother provide him with a temporary home, not realizing his true identity or the danger that finds them. This book was a bit of a slow burn as not much happens until the last ten pages. That sounds kind of like a poor recommendation, but the author is so descriptive that this lonely world that Laurel inhabits really comes to life in a haunting and melancholy way.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 10, 2013

    Enjoyed it

    My Book Club read this for February. I enjoyed it. It was amazing to see how a person's life can be changed and effected by the ignorance of others.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    Excellent

    This book explains how human nature fails to live up to its calling yet also how when it does suceed it does it so beautifully. So often the ones in positions of power are unfit to be there and cause untold suffering. This is a truth any clear minded soul can understand. Unfortunately a population which seems to be dwindlinding down and drowning in its unmindfullness and hatered.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2012

    Had a lot of potential but ultimately couldn't deliver. It fel

    Had a lot of potential but ultimately couldn't deliver. It felt slow and laborious with characters who were written as stereotypes. Some of the writing showed beauty, but there wasn't enough of it to make this a compelling read.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 3, 2012

    Fabuluous!

    Wonderful southern gothic in its purest form!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2014

    Great book!

    I highly reccomend this book. It is a treasure. Beautifully and powerfully written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 11, 2013

    Try it, You"ll like it!

    Had I been reading a book rather than my Nook, I would have taken a look at the ending! Wow!
    Had a really good discussion at "Bill's Book Club".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 24, 2013

    To gwen d sasha

    Ewwww

    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Suzyq

    Wonderful story

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Debi's book blog Debi's book blog

    See blog site for this and others!!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 2, 2012

    Story drew me in

    Loved this book.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 30, 2014

    Lovely use of language

    Very sad at times and I had hoped for a happy ending, even so it was an excellent read. I highly recommend this book.

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

    Posted April 21, 2014

    I hated this book

    I hated this book. It was well edited and had a conclusion, although a terrible one. It was strange and violent. It had undetailed sex. It was disturbing and sad. I can nit recimmend it. I am glad others liked it, for the author's sake. Not chick lit. For adults.

    AD

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    I felt like I was watching a Hallmark movie or reading some roma

    I felt like I was watching a Hallmark movie or reading some romantic novel, both of which I am not into. I was disappointed as I have heard he is such a great writer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    i thought it started out slow and ok but then it ended terribly.

    i thought it started out slow and ok but then it ended terribly. i never want to read anything else written by this author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Quartzstar

    Welcome this is the MEDICINE DEN!

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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