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Serena

A Novel

Rash, Ron

(Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Serena
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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.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, c2008.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0061470856
9780061470851
Characteristics: 371 p. ;,24 cm.

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This description seems to be from a book called Patriotic Grace by Peggy Noonan. This is the description for Serena: 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.

May 22, 2014
  • aliciamarie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Serena was a hard book to get in to but believe me, the ending is worth it! Such a mean, vicious woman. I enjoyed the fact that the female main character was so well written by a male author. It is a chilling, haunting story and I look forward to seeing the movie!

Feb 22, 2014
  • Lauraparr rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Slightly disappointed with Serena. Lots of unnecessary details and descriptions which make you forget about the plot itself. Shame, it could have been a better read if only not told in such dull manner.

Sep 25, 2013
  • mariednguyen rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

“Serena” sustains its haunting power until it goes one little step too far. When it finally lets Serena give full voice to her ambitions, they do the book an injustice. “The world is ripe, and we’ll pluck it like an apple from a tree,” says the woman who has wielded such subtle power throughout most of the story. It is a backhanded credit to the author’s portrait of Serena that no literal acts of greed and vengefulness do justice to the free-floating, otherworldly menace she has represented.

“Serena” is both drama and parable. The Pemberton-ravaged landscape comes to look like “that land over in France once them in charge let us quit fighting.” And as the book’s homespun philosophers try to name intangibles , like love, courage and air, they also grasp the universal, imperial darkness that the Pembertons’ ruthless game plan embodies. “You can’t see it no more than you can see air,” Mr. Rash writes, “but when it’s all around you sure enough know it.”
-By JANET MASLIN

Aug 03, 2013
  • CJA1910 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A look into the lumbering practices in North Carolina, the clear-cutting of forests and the greed of the lumber barons. Serena, introduced as a new bride, soon becomes a ruthless and evil presence, not to be crossed. An excellent book.

Jul 22, 2013
  • EPalmer2295 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

While the book is not terribly suspenseful or wildly exciting, it is a raw look at human ambition and lust for wealth and power. Perhaps the best part is looking back on the book once you have completed it and reveling at the changes that took place: the slow rise to a cunning mastermind by Serena and the slow breaking of Pemberton's will and spirit.

Jun 29, 2013
  • kelliyfults rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

wow... brutal, well-told story. Ruthlessness, greed and eco-terrorism during the depression, also a few 'gentle souls' for balance... Very original depiction of a sociopath-

Dec 20, 2012
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An enjoyable read about a memorable evil woman character. Even though the book's conflict between good and evil could have seemed over the top, instead it seemed more like a well-written modern myth. I intend to read more of Ron Rash

Aug 08, 2012
  • GmoneyATX rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

While I understand that Mr. Rash intended to write a structured novel, it was too rigid for my taste. The character Serena, is unreal in her cold calculated manner and is an attempt at writing a "strong" female character yet with no depth. The most interesting character turns out to be the unwed mother who has a life connected to others and the natural world that makes for a more fully realized character. The devices that Mr. Rash uses such as the chorus are somewhat interesting but the characters are limited by their rolls. I found that I didn't care about most of the characters or the outcome of the story with the exception of the young mother. I really liked the backdrop of the struggle to save the forest from logging. The book is worth a read but I understand Mr. Rash's short stories are better. I will give them a try next.

Aug 06, 2011
  • seattleman rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I first read Ron Rash earlier in 2011 with his New Yorker short: 'The Trustee'. His other stores also take place in depression-era America. An excellent starting point for stories about the desperate and the powerful. Serena has plenty of examples of both. The depravity of working conditions she and her husband perpetrate on the loggers fit their desire to strip the land of it's natural beauty and resource. Who's more ruthless--Serena or her husband? The second half is especially gripping. I was sorry the book had to end.

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