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The Cove

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  11,037 ratings  ·  1,401 reviews
This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe - just as they
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Ecco (first published February 22nd 2012)
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233 books — 293 voters
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,037 ratings  ·  1,401 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Brightness never stayed long here. Laurel had learned the true of that as a child. The parakeets had flown over the cove like a dense green cloud, but they'd never paused in their passing, never circled or landed. Instead the birds went over the cove the same way they would a deep murky pond. But one time it was full moon, the few minutes when enough light sifted in for the parakeets to see the orchard and its shriveled fruit. The flock curved back, low enough that Laurel could hear them call
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was recently introduced to the work of Ron Rash and plan to read more! In The Cove, Rash explores small town North Carolina during WWI with wonderful (sometimes haunting) detail and penetrating insight. There are a couple things I found really interesting about his approach and will keep in mind when reading his other works. First, even though it is clearly fiction, Rash uses a little known historical incident (a German luxury liner full of musicians who have ended up in Appalachia) to set up ...more
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it

another quietly wonderful book from ron rash, about a couple of outcasts trying to grab a little happiness out of a life filled with loss and loneliness.

this one takes place in north carolina during WWI, in a remote and "gloamy" cove, where a brother and sister live isolated by superstition and circumstances. the sister, laurel, has a large purple birthmark believed by the entire outlying town to be a sign of witchcraft, and the cove where the two reside is believed to be haunted. afte
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Southern Gothic Lit
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Kwoomac
Recently infatuated with southern lit I just had to give Ron Rash a try. With racism, poverty & superstition & the inclusion of an ill fated love affair, slot this one as ‘contemporary southern gothic.’ Yes, it’s melancholy and slow paced at the start but so superbly written that it’s a joy to read.
Set at the end of WW1 and told through Laurel’s eyes, a simple tale of a birth-marked woman shunned by the locals as a witch –of her lonely life with only her brother Hank, a wounded WW1 veteran for
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful historical story and Ron Rash is a writer to add alongside great southern gothic styled writers. Just as many have mentioned Ron Rash strikes up feelings of being present with great writers such as Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy.
This story leaves a mark with characters that are lonely and modest, rich in kindness and deeply warm to others even though they face inequalities due to race, heritage and have been marked in a superstitious ways as cursed. A brother and a sister are
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A man walked through the cove, passing Slidell’s old homestead, then down the hill to Laurel and Hank’s cabin. Both deserted now. Stopping by the well for a cool drink of water, he lowered the bucket into the hole, hitting what felt like some branches off a tree. Then the bucket began to descend again. Bringing up a murky bucketl of water, the man waited until the water had cleared. Looking into it, he saw his own reflection. He waited. As the water cleared, the face he saw began to look like a ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Ron Rash has a sublime sense of place, atmospheric detail and colloquial manners. The Appalachian landscapes in his novels are vivid, rugged. Colors, smells, and sounds take on a sentient quality, and there's a brutal, timeless delicacy to his terrains. Moment to moment, you move from the crest of creation to the threat of destruction. His stories convey themselves through the power of domain. His latest is a testament to the most fertile aspects of his craft, which shimmer through an otherwise ...more
Diane Barnes
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
No, this was not Serena, thank goodness, because I was not ready to descend into that maelstrom of evil again. Instead, we learn that ignorance and bigotry can be just as harmful, maybe more so. This was an entirely different tale, giving us the beauty of the landscape and the honesty and emotions of damaged characters coming to love one another while standing against a community that chooses to ostracize rather than accept. I loved it, and will choose to think of it as a fairy tale that ended b ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loaned, blog
3 1/2 stars.

The small, isolated community of Mars Hill, North Carolina, continues to cling to the prejudices and Appalachian superstitions of another century in the wake of World War I. Its men have been to fight in foreign lands, encountered the awesome terror of modernized warfare, and yet still harbor a profound fear of a young woman who lives sadly and quietly in a place simply known as "The Cove." Laurel Shelton's life, thanks to the people of Mars Hill, has not been an easy one. Marked by
Connie G
In the prologue, a TVA official was preparing for the cove to be flooded. A local man in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina told him, "You can't bury that cove deep enough for me....The cove was a place where only bad things happened."

Over thirty years earlier at the end of World War I, Laurel and her brother Hank, a veteran missing a hand, were living at the cove. With the shadow of a cliff looming over the cabin and dark woods, the cove is a dark, sinister place. The townspeople in th
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-club
This book really got to me when I read it, and it has quietly haunted me ever since. I find myself thinking of the characters some times, and still bothered by the ugly truths of prejudice and human nature that the author captured so powerfully. I think it's the subtle, quiet power of the book which makes it so effective, and the evocative portrait of the South. I have a real love/hate relationship with the region I was born in, and Rash captures it perfectly: wildness, beauty, spirit...but all ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandra by: Will Byrnes
Shelves: 2016, grit-lit-noir
There is Lauren, the wicked witch (or so the town thinks) with her brother Hank living in the cove. Disaster has struck the family several times and now they are ready to work hard and have a better future.

This is dark and gloomy, with bits of hope shining through. Rash' mastery with descriptions, he manages to completely immerse the reader in the environment of the cove. You hear the gurgling of the water and feel the sunlight on your face when you look up as the birds take off and make the lea
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-writers
A beautiful story by Ron Rash. What a phenomenal writer he is...
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since reading Serena a couple years ago (rushing to get it done before the movie that never materialized), I've  looked forward to more Ron Rash.  The Cove lacks the very sick disturbing main characters found in Serena, but it did offer us Chauncey, a mighty good example of an egomaniac on the verge of doing something truly awful to prove his manliness to the townspeople.  The main  story  of the siblings Laurel and Hank  taking in a mute vagrant gradually developed into a mesmerizing tale. ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-lit
I love Southern literature. By turns it can be nostalgic, sweet,romantic, brooding, dark.But for me,southern literature always has it's complicated political and social history at it's core. The Cove is no different.
The setting is North Carolina just before the close of WWI. A young woman, shunned by the locals as a witch befriends a drifter she happens upon in the cove she calls home. As the friendship develops, you can see how this cannot possibly end well, but you are routing for a happy co
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars
Although this story takes place during WWI in NC, it reflects the prejudices that still exists today - all over the world.
I felt the novel stated off slowly and ended too quickly, but the story will remain with me and the writing was beautiful.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First review of 2014...wohoo!

I like to think that I have eclectic reading tastes, meaning that while I have preferences when it comes to my reading choices, I find I like lots of different styles, genres, and stories for lots of different reasons.

But this ... The Cove, this is the kind of book that hits my literary G-spot. Okay, I know: a little crude, too much information, whatever--but true.

You see, I love Southern Gothic fiction--Flannery O'Connor, one of my heroines; Erskine Caldwell, a geni
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Laurel and her brother Hank who has just returned from the trenches in France live in a shady cove in the Appalachians. One day while in the woods Laurel who is treated as an outcast and proclaimed a witch by neighboring Mars Hill townsfolk, comes across Walter whom she has previously glimpsed playing a silver flute by the river, but who has now been stung by a swarm of bees and needs help. Walter is a stranger to the area, who carries a note in his pocket explaining that he is a mute musician j ...more
I have to thank my GR friends for letting me know that Ron Rash even exists!

Listened to this on audio (which, I admit is one of the weaker audio narrations I've heard). Took me a while to to get into the book, but when I did ---- what a good story.

Although the book is set in a small North Carolina town, it's as timely as ever (unfortunately..) It's a tale of the tragic consequences when ignorance, prejudice, and superstition are fueled by hate and pride.

This book has a beautiful lyricism and I
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

What light XXX's eyes held faded, not dying away like an ember but receding like a train headed elsewhere. XXX couldn't shake the feeling that wherever the light was going it was taking part of him with it.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america, all-fiction
Readers who prefer atmosphere over action will savor the first 150 pages of The Cove. It took me days to get through that first 150 pages, then I blew through the final 100 pages all in one day. It's quite a contrast in pacing and tone, and it gets surprisingly suspenseful near the end. So have a little patience and your payoff will come.

After a prologue in which a human skull is found in the cove's well in the 1950s, Ron Rash treats us to a leisurely buildup in which the skull is all but forgo
Diane S ☔
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
3.5 There is no doubt that the strength of Ron Rash's writing lies in his use of regional color, his descriptions of the Appalachians are lush and elegant, just beautiful. This books highlights the superstitions of the mountain people, the loneliness of being an outcast, and how even at the end of the war patriotic fever is stirred up. The power of secrets and the damages they do all set to beautiful scenery with a very melancholy tone. Definitely not your happy ever after book. ...more
William Clemens
May 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is one of those books where I just don't understand why people are loving it so much. I found it incredibly hard to slog through, full of characters who are so one dimensional I couldn't take them seriously, and set against a backdrop that just didn't impress.

Everyone seems to go on about the nature in the book, and how it captures the feel of Appalachia, but I just didn't see it. He certainly mentions nature, and goes on about how dark the cove is and how bright it makes the sun feel, but
Julie Christine
The dank and dangerous cylinder of a new well, where the walls could collapse at any moment, crushing the digger in a muddy grave; a valley so overwhelmed by a cliff of granite that light shudders and dies in its wet shadow; a voice choked from sound, leaving a man trapped in silence; a young woman isolated by fear and suspicion in a remote mountain cabin: these are the acedian images Ron Rash writes to sobering effect in The Cove.

This is a novel of a place seemingly suspended in time, a forgott
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
The story takes place 3 miles from the town of Mars Hill, NC. I live 2 miles from Mars Hill so I keep looking out my windows trying to find the cove that he talks about! So far, no luck. I'm not a great fan of Ron Rash and this one is distracting since it involves so many nearby localities. More later.

So, now I've finished it and am trying to figure out why I disliked it so much. Because it takes place where I live, all of the historical inconsistencies really bothered me. He has the French
Fred Shaw
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Cove" is the first book I've read by Ron Rash and certainly not the last. I have heard Rash's writing style as lyrical arisen from his poetry. I say it is clear as a mountain stream as are the story, characters, setting. This is also a view of the cruelty of men blinded by hate and prejudice. A stranger appears in the lives of a brother and sister, living a farmers life in the Appalacian mountains in the early 1900's. Their lives are simple but fulfilling and this man brings strength and ho ...more
reading is my hustle
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Deb B.
Grave and deliberate story set in the Appalachian mountains. This is a book (though) that is not about the story. It is about the writing and atmosphere. Beautiful and complex.

Mostly, "The Cove" is about being an outsider. ENJOY...

p.s. reminds me a bit of "Nightwoods" by Charles Frazier.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Deep in the Appalachian mountains, lies a cove. Partially hidden by an over hanging cliff, it is a dark and forbidding place, thought to be haunted by the local townspeople, and the young woman, Laural, who lives there with her brother Hank, a recent wounded veteran of the trenches in France, is thought to be a witch.

Laura's and Hank are devoted to each other and they work hard to restore the farm of their parents. In doing so, Laura dreams of a better life.

When a stranger is discovered in the
3.5 stars. This was a darn good read, my third by Rash. You know immediately there will be no happy ending here in the cove: "A cursed place . . . cursed long before Laurel's father bought the land. The Cherokee had stayed away from the cove, and the first white family to settle here had all died of smallpox. There were stories of hunters who'd come into the cove and never been seen again, a place where ghosts and fetches wandered."

Laurel and Hank Shelton, sister and brother, run their family's
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lost-audiobooks
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

This was your classic case of, receiving the unexpected. I have heard so many wonderful things about Ron Rash and expected dark southern lit with a poignant plot and atmospheric backdrop. What I received instead was a heavy helping of romance with a side of historical fiction and a tiny dash of southern lit.

To the contrary, some of my favorite Goodreads reviewers did find this one to be atmospheric. Maybe it's me, or maybe it is because I am so familiar with the Appalachi
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
On the Southern L...: * Final Impressions: The Cove: May 2018 18 40 May 26, 2018 08:39PM  
On the Southern L...: * Initial Impressions: The Cove: May 2018 53 39 May 16, 2018 06:17AM  
All About Books: The Cove by Ron Rash (Colleen & Jenny) 10 11 May 14, 2018 06:07PM  
Is Rash worthy of the Steinbeck mantle? 5 59 Oct 31, 2013 11:59AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: Cove, The - February 2013 48 116 Mar 15, 2013 05:14AM  

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Ron 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 four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other St ...more

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