Kerry's Reviews > Serena

Serena by Ron Rash
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's review
Jul 13, 12

Read in July, 2012

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.
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