Serena: A Novel ereader To download now please click the link below.
http://amzn.to/17ggJo7 Overview 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 mountainsâ€”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.
Reviews In the primeval woods of North Carolina, young timber baron, George Pemberton, brings his bride, Serena, to live with him in his kingdom. He had been busy enough already, fathering a child with a local girl and clear-cutting wide swaths of land. Serena quickly establishes herself as a power in her own right, knowledgeable about the timber business from her family background in Colorado, frightened of nothing and totally, totally ruthless. She is both an almost deitific figure and a satanic one. She will tolerate no criticism and her ambition is beyond measure. Beware, any who would cross her path. Both murderer of people and proud rapist of the landscape, she acquires a henchman to take care of her dirtiest deeds, among which is the removal of Georgeâ€™s bastard child, and the childâ€™s mother, and less human assistants as well.
Literature with a capital L. Serena is one of the great dark females in literary history, up there with Livia, Lady MacBeth and others of their ilk. Beautiful, beautiful writing.
This is the most satisfying read I have had all year. Ron Rash is a major find. It is a wonder that he is not as well known as Ondaatje or others on that high plain. A feast, a powerful tale accompanied by a symphony of classical and literary tones. Hubris, greed, man and god, doing the right thing, magic, vengeance, good and evil, the essence of America, capitalism, and with a Greek chorus to boot. If this is not made into a world-class, best-picture level film it will be a huge, huge loss. This is a very cinematic book, rich in color, scenery, imagery, dramatic settings, shocking events, bigger than life characters, and all with purpose. Major, major work. It makes one yearn for more. This is a great new book by Ron Rash, who teaches at Western Carolina University. It is set in a lumber camp in the mountains of North Carolina during the Great Depression. The title character, Serena Pemberton, has just joined her husband at the camp as the book begins. Although most of the manager's wives stay away from the rough-and-tumble, backwoods camp, Serena quickly asserts her leadership.
The opening chapter reveals that Serena's husband has impregnated one of the local camp workers, setting up a conflict that must eventually be resolved.
Serena is a character of supreme ambition who will not let anything, or anyone, stand in her way. The true extent of her evil nature is revealed as the book's plot develops.
The author has spent a lot of effort researching the book's setting. As a result, these characters from an almost forgotten time seem real. The only fault I would mention is that the book has so many minor characters it is occasionally difficult to keep track of them all. This is a real page turner. I bought this book after being blown away by Ron Rash's "The Cove". I expected another gem of a southern novel, and got one. But where The Cove has the feel of a sweet, sad mountain ballad, Serena is a dark Gothic masterpiece, complete with deteriorating world (in the form of massive clear cutting in the Great Smoky Mountains), tempting villain (Serena herself), and fallen hero (her husband, Pemberton). We are even treated to something of a Greek chorus, in the form of one of the timber crews, who give us the "everyman's" perspective on the events of the novel. Absolutely brilliant!
I loved so many things about this novel it's hard to know where to start. Of course, Rash's writing is wonderful - so lyrical and evocative of everything from the lives of the "highlanders" to the beauty of the mountains to the light and dark of his characters. The time and place are interesting - the novel is set amidst the holdings of a timber company at the time - during the Depression when the federal government is finalizing the land purchases and eminent domain takings that will establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The characters are fascinating and diverse, and even the most minor impart color and flavor to the story. And something I didn't really figure out until I turned the last page, but that was so effective: although the main character is Serena, Rash never narrates from her perspective. She is the centerpiece, but we learn about her through the eyes of all the other characters in the book.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Pure pleasure from start to finish. Rash has combined his unique and heartfelt view of the Appalachian wilderness and paired it against a larger than life, disturbingly vicious female character. The book shows what great devastation and ecological impact that unchecked
consumption has on the environment and the ruthless attitude of business gone wild. The story is a slow-burn narrative, not quick and suspenseful, but contemplative. It takes its time in developing each character and showing not only how they react to each other, but how they react to the natural environment (i.e. Serena's brash consumption against Rachel's holistic utilization). Rash uses excellent dialogue and minimal flashbacks to keep the story moving all while keeping the tension and the undercurrent of suspicion, all the way up to the story's wonderful climax. Though not fast-paced or a cliff-hanger mystery story, Serena takes its time in developing well-thought out characters and infusing an authentic Appalachian culture and attitude into a sweeping landscape and narrative. Rash's writing is clear and honest, choosing to forgo frilly diction for powerful images. This novel opens with a bang. Pemberton brings his new wife, Serena, home to Appalachia and his logging camp. Waiting for him as the train stops is the father of the young woman who is pregnant with Pemberton's child. The girl's father plans to kill Pemberton as his pregnant daughter watches. Things turn out differently, however. Pemberton, with the blessing of his wife Serena, duels with the father and kills him. Serena gives the daughter the knife from her father's body and tells her that she will never get any help from them for her child.
The book progresses as the couple builds a logging empire, razing the land all around them to stumps and polluting the environment. This is told in the backdrop of the Great Depression and FDR's starting up of National Parks. Naturally, the Pembertons are opposed to parks and they buy up all the land they can to log while buying off all the people they can to turn the outcomes in their favor. Those in their way, they kill or have killed. There is no compassion forthcoming from these two.
Many others die due to the horrible conditions in the logging camp. As soon as someone is injured they are fired and replaced. If they die, the next person waiting for a job gets hired. There is no compensation and certainly no compassion. Everyone is expendable to the Pembertons.
Even in love there is a visage of portending evil. Serena wants Pemberton to be satisfied in life with only her - the two of them together against the world. She describes their lovemaking as 'annihilation'. This is symbolic of the two of them needing only one another and the rest of the world being expendable if they do not fit into Serena and Pembertan's plans. Unfortunately, Serena can not
produce an heir and she begins to worry whether Pemberton is secretly helping his illegitimate son and his mother.
Serena goes around on her white Arabian horse with an Eagle trained to kill rattlesnakes and other enemies. As she begins to suspect that Pemberton might have some interests that are not solely her, the balance of love and power begin to shift.
I found this a powerful book, beautifully written with wonderfully developed characterization. The sense of time and place is superb. I highly recommend this book. As with Ron Rash's other writing, this book is poetic and beautiful even when the subject matter isn't (as is often the case here). Rash crafts a compelling villain in Serena and keeps the novel compulsively readable, even when all the actions the main characters commit are despicable. I was particularly impressed with his use point of view, which is a distant third. It seems anachronistic at first, but allows the author to be almost invisible, letting events play out without judgement. This also allows for a unique language style that a lesser writer probably wouldn't be able to pull off. Word choice is appropriate to the period, but the language itself is put together in a somewhat stylized way that serves to put the reader in the characters' world.
I found it refreshing to read about such an unabashedely evil character. Some of Serena's psychology drips in, giving depth to her character and hints as to why she is the way she it, but her actions are deliberate and Rash never tries to cultivate sympathy for her. In the end, however, I found it hard to completely hate her. Kind of like hating a snake for being a snake. Not since Ben Ames Williamsâ€™ gripping novel, Leave It To Heaven, have we encountered a sinister female sociopath capable of chilling and frightening readers. But now there is Serena, the main character in Ron Rash's latest novel.
In 1929, during the depression, newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton move to the Appalachians of North Carolina to build a logging empire. Serena, the Lady Macbeth of this stirring novel, proves herself to be the equal of any man in the camp. She is also without conscience when it comes to ruthless killing or vanquishing anyone who crosses or displeases her. This is a character you can not turn away from. It is impossible to like anything about the woman, but like the proverbial train wreck, you can not look away or quit reading. The character
could have gone over the top or she could have mellowed, but in Mr. Rash's brilliant hand, she jumps off the page, and mesmerizes you.
When Serena learns she is barren, she sets out to murder George's illegitimate child and their intense, passionate marriage then begins to unravel. From there the story catapults to a shocking reckoning.
This is a lushly rich and compelling study of greed and lust in the search for wealth and power. Some of the issues in the book are as relevant as today's headlines, such as conservation and national parks. Mr. Rash's masterful balance of beauty and violence create a riveting novel of devoted love offset by great betrayals.
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