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Serena by Ron Rash
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Serena (2008)

by Ron Rash

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1,141817,167 (3.7)85
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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
There is a wonderful Shakespearean quality to this novel. But don’t let that scare you away, it is very readable and painted vivid pictures of the Great Smoky Mountains in my head… I plan on seeking out every book written by Mr. Rash and devouring them.

George Pemberton, young scion of a wealthy Boston family, is running a lumber company in Appalachia in 1929. He is a Hemingway-type protagonist: he wants to work hard, play hard, make a fortune, and shoot a mountain lion. When he brings home his new bride, Serena, at first he does not realize that he has indeed bagged his mountain lion in the form of this blonde heiress to a Colorado lumber empire. Serena is lithe, graceful, beautiful, intelligent, and completely ruthless and remorseless about getting what she wants. The body count begins on the first page, and Serena continues to dispatch everyone who stands in her way. The lumber workers provide delightful Greek chorus interludes, in which they speculate on who is going to be the die next, and add a bit of (dark) comic relief. (My favorite paraphrased: He should have known people such as them couldn’t be killed with fire, you have to drive a stake through their hearts) Serena galloping around on her white Arabian horse with her rattlesnake-killing Berkut eagle provides enough foreboding symbolism to make any Roman quake in his sandals.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
This is as close to a five as I have read in a long time. Great characters, great writing, interesting and unique story. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
This is as close to a five as I have read in a long time. Great characters, great writing, interesting and unique story. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Although this book isn't exactly what I was expecting, it did not disappoint. The characters are developed very well and their actions are quite predictable once you get to know them. So much so, that it is hard to put the book down when you realize something is about to happen to someone you may or may not like. Unfortunately, there is little in between, the characters are polarizing and good and bad are clear cut. The only character growth is that the bad get badder and the good get righteous. I would have liked a little more historical background on the formation of Smokey Mountains National Park and more detail about the minor characters role in its creation. There isn't much description of the environmental costs of the lumber industry and the promised emphasis on the burgeoning environmental movement is negligible. However the book's title is Serena and there is no doubt that this book is about her and her voracious appetite for power. ( )
  jeangabrielle | Mar 13, 2016 |
Although this book isn't exactly what I was expecting, it did not disappoint. The characters are developed very well and their actions are quite predictable once you get to know them. So much so, that it is hard to put the book down when you realize something is about to happen to someone you may or may not like. Unfortunately, there is little in between, the characters are polarizing and good and bad are clear cut. The only character growth is that the bad get badder and the good get righteous. I would have liked a little more historical background on the formation of Smokey Mountains National Park and more detail about the minor characters role in its creation. There isn't much description of the environmental costs of the lumber industry and the promised emphasis on the burgeoning environmental movement is negligible. However the book's title is Serena and there is no doubt that this book is about her and her voracious appetite for power. ( )
  jeangabrielle | Mar 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
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A hand, that with a grasp may grip the worlde.
--Christopher Marlowe
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For my bother, Thomas Rash
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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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061470856, Hardcover)

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains--but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

The Gift of Silence: An Essay by Ron Rash

When readers ask how I came to be a writer, I usually mention several influences: my parents’ teaching by example the importance of reading; a grandfather who, though illiterate, was a wonderful storyteller; and, as I grew older, an awareness that my region had produced an inordinate number of excellent writers and that I might find a place in that tradition. Nevertheless, I believe what most made me a writer was my early difficulty with language.

My mother tells me that certain words were impossible for me to pronounce, especially those with j’s and g’s. Those hard consonants were like tripwires in my mouth, causing me to stumble over words such as “jungle” and “generous.” My parents hoped I would grow out of this problem, but by the time I was five, I’d made no improvement. There was no speech therapist in the county, but one did drive in from the closest city once a week.

That once a week was a Saturday morning at the local high school. For an hour the therapist worked with me. I don’t remember much of what we did in those sessions, except that several times she held my hands to her face as she pronounced a word. I do remember how large and empty the classroom seemed with just the two of us in it, and how small I felt sitting in a desk made for teenagers.

I improved, enough so that by summer’s end the therapist said I needed no further sessions. I still had trouble with certain words (one that bedevils me even today is “gesture”), but not enough that when I entered first grade my classmates and teacher appeared to notice. Nevertheless, certain habits of silence had taken hold. It was not just self-consciousness. Even before my sessions with the speech therapist, I had convinced myself that if I listened attentively enough to others my own tongue would be able to mimic their words. So I listened more than I spoke. I became comfortable with silence, and, not surprisingly, spent a lot of time alone wandering nearby woods and creeks. I entertained myself with stories I made up, transporting myself into different places, different selves. I was in training to be a writer, though of course at that time I had yet to write more than my name.

Yet my most vivid memory of that summer is not the Saturday morning sessions at the high school but one night at my grandmother’s farmhouse. After dinner, my parents, grandmother and several other older relatives gathered on the front porch. I sat on the steps as the night slowly enveloped us, listening intently as their tongues set free words I could not master. Then it appeared. A bright-green moth big as an adult’s hand fluttered over my head and onto the porch, drawn by the light filtering through the screen door. The grown-ups quit talking as it brushed against the screen, circled overhead, and disappeared back into the night. It was a luna moth, I learned later, but in my mind that night it became indelibly connected to the way I viewed language--something magical that I grasped at but that was just out of reach.

In first grade, I began learning that loops and lines made from lead and ink could be as communicative as sound. Now, almost five decades later, language, spoken or written, is no longer out of reach, but it remains just as magical as that bright-green moth. What writer would wish it otherwise.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains - but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness." "Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her, Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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