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Serena by Ron Rash
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Serena (2008)

by Ron Rash

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English (92)  Dutch (4)  Danish (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
i picked up this book because every time I read a review of The Cove, or any other Ron Rash books, readers mentioned this book, and how amazing it was. I did not stop to read the back cover or anything about the book, just opened it up and started reading. I am so glad I came to it that way - no plot give-aways, no pre-conceptions.

The characters in this novel are so well written and memorable. The settings, the descriptions of place, you are there, you see what the characters see, smell, taste. hear. The writing is so good. The story is engrossing, disturbing and unforgettable. The movie is being made - read the book first!! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
The reviews I had read prior to my reading this novel were very polarized. Many loved it, many hated it. The impression it left me lies somewhere in the middle.

Ron Rash's prose is beautiful. It is realistic and earthy, but not raw or unpolished and it helps you visualize the harsh Appalachian landscape, full of lore and superstitions, which is slowly falling prey to the needs of the developing, modern world. The heart of the novel is Serena, a deeply flawed, mysterious heroine that bends eagles and men alike to her will. Pemberton, her husband, has some sins of the past to atone for. The relationship between the married, young couple is the element that attracts the reader's attention, in my opinion. And there lies the fault of the novel.

When the two main characters are absent, Serena simply seizes to exist. Every other character is boring, their conversations are provincial and deeply sexist. Of course, this last remark may be somehow unjust, considering the time and setting of the novel. We have men who feel threatened by a powerful woman. In addition, the animal violence was too much.The mad preacher is infuriatingly annoying, and Rachel is a snooze-fest, her only function lies to additional melodrama. She is weak, she only thinks and never acts, a character I simply didn't care about. As a result, much skimming and skipping pages took place in a novel that is not particularly long.

I could see the end coming from a distance when Pemberton expressed the will to aid Rachel and his illegitimate son so I wasn't that surprised. Was it a just ending? Not particularly, but it was a realistic one. Furthermore, I was disappointed with the fact that we never get to know the reason Serena was such a cruel, ruthless, deranged person. Pemberton was much more developed, Serena sometimes came across as one-dimensional. In that sense, she was more a Medea than a Lady Macbeth, because there is not an ounce of remorse in her. Somehow, in retrospect, I think that the end left some considerable loose ends.

I will definitely read more works by Ron Rush, but my high expectations for Serena were not fulfilled. ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
I’m glad I did not read any blurbs or reviews before reading this book. It is definitely a book that needs to be gone into blind. For that exact reason, I cannot really discuss the novel in any detail without giving away too much information. It is a novel that builds gradually a psychological profile of Serena Pemberton without really telling us much about her at all. When the internal workings of a character are very important to the novel, most authors will tell you a lot about what that character is thinking or what has happened to them in the past to bring them to this place. Ron Rash does not do that. He just shows us what Serena says and does and nothing more is needed.

It is a chilling story. I wondered in the beginning why Serena was such a flat cardboard character (stilted and cold) when it was obvious that Rash could draw very complete and complex characters by his treatment of others in the novel (Rachel was full-blown, complex and interesting to me from the beginning). Sarena was not only inaccessible, but unredeeming, and that puzzled me until the story reached a point where it became very clear that Rash wanted and needed her to be seen that way.

I finished the novel with very mixed feelings. I enjoyed reading the novel, but I did not think it had anything lofty or meaningful to say. I tend to like books in which the characters, good and bad, are people I might expect to find in my own world. I would not ever expect to meet anyone like Serena, nor, for that matter, like Pemberton or Galloway. This extremity keeps this from being a strong book for me, a fun read but not a favorite. I can believe that this would be a huge success for some readers, but it breaks somewhere in the middle for me.

Finally, I must say that Rash has a comfortable writing style and knows how to move a story at a pleasing pace. I loved his descriptions and felt immersed in his environment. I would not hesitate to read another of his novels and feel sure that in his hands another story might captivate me completely.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I was told this book was hauntingly good and it was. So much so that I haven't been able to really create coherent thoughts to make up a sufficient review. I will say that I am now a Ron Rash fan and I'm mad I didn't pick this one up sooner. ( )
  JamieBH | Apr 3, 2018 |
I wasn't in love with this book. I almost abandoned it because the beginning was so boring. There were many parts that I just totally skipped through. I could not keep the characters and their jobs within the camp straight. There wasn't enough character development to distinguish them, I guess. The book really rambled on in places. It did get more interesting after a certain point and that's why I finished it. I heard that this book was made into a movie, but that it's been shelved and no one knows when it will be released. That's probably for the best as the actors chosen for the lead roles totally don't fit the characters (in my opinion). I did like the ending of this book. ( )
  Aseleener | Mar 24, 2018 |
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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 11 descriptions

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847674879, 1847674887

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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