Serena by Ron Rash
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Ron Rash

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Ron Rash's Burning Bright won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. "Into the Gorge" garnered a second O. Henry Prize for Rash, and, along with "The Ascent," was selected for the Best American Short Stories series. Those stories and "Back of Beyond" were also selected for the Best New Stories from the South series. Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and three collections of stories, among them Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. He teaches at Western Carolina University.
 
Published September 25, 2014 by Canongate Books Ltd. 384 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Serena

The New York Times

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Ron Rash’s fourth novel, “Serena,” will prompt instant interest in his first, second and third.

Oct 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

The Guardian

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Here is the opening paragraph, which in its lapidary style tells you all you need to know about this novelist's approach to storytelling: "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 w...

Oct 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

The Guardian

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"Give us a lifetime and Mrs Pemberton and I will cut down every tree, not just in Brazil but in the world," declares George Pemberton towards the end of this bitter and brilliant novel.

Oct 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Christian Science Monitor

With all due admiration for Shakespeare, I never thought she seemed the type to be driven suicidal by guilt.

Nov 12 2008 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

The Bookbag

But eventually 'it' is their undoing, or more specifically, Pemberton's undoing.

Aug 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

BookPage

When Serena—a near-mythological figure in camp due to her advanced knowledge of logging, her strict management of the workers from astride a white Arabian and her eerie control over both a rattlesnake - hunting eagle and a one - handed employee—turns her vengeful eye on Rachel, a local girl who b...

Jan 30 2014 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Open Letters Monthly

O’Connor attributes this to the South being “Christ-haunted” and that these ghosts “cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature.” According to O’Connor, what fuels the best stories, Southern or otherwise, is the pushing of a character’s development beyond the places determined by “psychi...

Mar 16 2013 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Review (Barnes & Noble)

This astonishing juxtaposition of Serena's cold, calculating beauty coupled with Pemberton's sanguine earthiness is just one example of how deftly Rash has entwined his narrative's poetic tenor with horrific accidents and the foretelling of chilling murders: "McDowell was in the room's one cell p...

Nov 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

About.com

Asked about critics' tendency to see Southern writers as having only regional appeal, Rash noted that Ulysses is about as "regional" as one can get, yet it is undeniably a classic.

Mar 16 2013 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Gather Books

In SERENA by Ron Rash, Serena is married to Pemberton, co-owner of a lumber company, in 1929 North Carolina.

Oct 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Books n' Kisses

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.

Feb 20 2015 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Janet Maslin Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars "Though the novel Serena is beautifully written, at times author Ron Rash’s characterization of her crosses over into caricature.

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Chamber Four

The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy Similar Posts REVIEW: The Enchantress of Florence REVIEW: Drood REVIEW: The Ministry of Special Cases REVIEW: What Men Call Treasure REVIEW: Watership Down

Apr 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Annette's Book Spot

I've received several awards and because of the time involved, I now must make this an "award free" blog.

May 13 2014 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

The Readventurer

ReviewsIf You Like This Maybe ThatLibrary QuestOdds & Ends On The WebRandomnessReadalong RecapsShe Made Me Do ItTatiana's Adult ReviewsTatiana's Y.A.

Aug 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Reviews of Books

New York Times review by Janet Maslin.

Dec 26 2014 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

My Book Retreat

... In the western mountains of North Carolina, George Pemberton returns to his logging camp with his new bride, Serena. They are now partners ...

Apr 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

http://allreaders.com

Serena Book Review Summary ... Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Serena ... He and his new bride Serena have plans to build clear the raw undeveloped land ...

Dec 26 2014 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

Creative Loafing

It's not until the last 100 pages or so that Serena's tale of blood and lust finds the rapid pacing of the title character's white Arabian.

Oct 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

APOOO Bookclub

By Beverly Jackson • Jun 15th, 2009 • Category: Book Review 2009 • Email This Post • Print This Post When the story opens, both the reader and the community of Waynesville, North Carolina are introduced to Serena.

Jun 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

https://www.bookbrowse.com

Ron Rash's descriptive pages placed me among the Highlanders - their string houses - their fears - their danger.

Dec 26 2014 | Read Full Review of Serena: A Novel

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Rebecca Kilbane

Rebecca Kilbane 5 Sep 2013

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