karen's Reviews > The Cove

The Cove by Ron Rash
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's review
Feb 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: grit-lit, from-publisher-or-author
Read on February 01, 2012


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. after their parents died, the two of them lived alone until hank went to war, where he lost a hand (view spoiler), leaving laurel completely cut off from human contact and deeply lonely. there is only one man in town they can call a friend; the rest cross the street or spit when the two have to go to town for supplies. the heroism clinging to hank after his experience in the war has mitigated his situation somewhat,and people begin to treat him less shabbily, but laurel has no chance - she is doomed to solitude and loneliness, isolated in this presumably haunted cove.

until a mute and illiterate traveling flute-player loses his way in the cove, gets stung by a million bees, and is nursed back to health by laurel.as he recovers, and is able to help hank with the farm chores hank's single hand is inadequate to perform alone,he and laurel form a bond.

and laurel gets her chance at happiness.

this being ron rash, the happiness is not guaranteed - there are going to be a lot of complications. i guessed the "twist" part just by reading what will be the flap copy, but i don't think that matters. this isn't about the reveal,(view spoiler), but about laurel's struggles to carve out a place for herself when she has been given so few options.

it is also about birds. birds who are being driven out of their habitat by farmers protecting their crops, birds pecking each other to death, birds who will not leave a fellow bird behind.so many different birds exemplifying so many different traits of our human characters. but rash pulls it off without it feeling treacly.

and the character of chauncey, our "bad guy," is terrific. it's strange that this is the character who seems the most richly drawn and the most nuanced, because he is awful and smarmy and self-aggrandizing and one of those misguided true believers who, if there energy were harnessed towards ANY USEFUL GOAL AT ALL, would be a hero. instead, he is a german-hating pre-nazi, down to the symmetry of his uniform and his desire to burn the german-language books in the library.

he's an awful character, but a wonderfully-written character. and definitely my favorite in this book.

all the previous "spoilers" in this review were just silly television giggles that i didn't want cheapening the main text of a review of a serious-toned book, but this following one is an actual spoiler about an incredibly small passage in the book, but one that made my heart physically ache with emotion.

(view spoiler) that scene broke my heart and i would have loved more moments like that throughout this fine, but not emotionally jarring, novel.

this one didn't kick my reader's ass the way serena did, but it is a very good, quiet piece of writing from an author more people should be reading.
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Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent STEVE HOLT!

karen hahah when i was looking for a picture of him for the review, do you know what i found??


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio That lemur is the best thing on the internet. The whole thing.

Michelle Joshua Nomen-Mutatio wrote: "That lemur is the best thing on the internet. The whole thing."

I concur. I watched it so many times.

message 5: by David (last edited Feb 02, 2012 07:47AM) (new)

David I still prefer double rainbow guy. (It's starting to look like a trippo rehnbow!)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I'd like to see the Double Rainbow Guy and the Lemur combined somehow. They're both adorable. They'd make a great duo. The Double Rainbow Guy could just be in awe of how cute the Lemur is. And then they'd fight crime together of something.

message 7: by Greg (new)

Greg I wish I knew what the picture was. Stupid work computers.

karen i'm not going to tell you. have fun at work!

message 9: by seak (new)

seak AD, you know how to win my heart. :)

message 11: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Feb 02, 2012 10:13AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Oh, that's not called a lemur. Derrr. I'm ashamed. I love you, Loris!

Michelle Same diff.
: )

karen awww now i am at work and now i can't see the picture. so much for gloating.

karen oh my, have you not seen him?? he is the happiest loris!

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Lemurs are actually not cute. I'm sorry again for my bad misinformation. Loris! Loris! Loris!

karen okay - there is this website called the youtube?? go to it. find him. you will squeee

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Also, LORIS!

karen lemurs are cute, too.

karen all of gods creatures are cute

karen and delicious

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio You have no say in this, smile-devourer.

karen Joshua Nomen-Mutatio wrote: "You have no say in this, smile-devourer."

i am not allowed to identify what is cute? i would say i am amply qualified. all my life is about acquiring cute stuff.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Some lemurs are cute. Others are more scary looking than cute. All of them are not as cute as the loris.

message 24: by Miriam (new)

Miriam The lemur dares you to come over and say that to his face, Josh.

karen oh i love him. i loooove him. i love his little handies!

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I'm never using Goodreads again! EVER!

karen why, what happened?

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio That horrible creature's image raped my mind is what happened.

karen come on. that thing is supercute and you know it. he has peas for eyes!

karen PEAS!

Michelle Give us the precious...

Les Sorry to veer from the Loris thread. Long time lurker/follower and first time caller. Your review was wonderful, per always. Rash is truly brilliant and should be much more well known. I love that you can guess the "twist" and yet are still so engrossed in the story and the writing that the predictability is a non-factor.

karen exactly - because even if you the reader know what's coming, the characters still have to find out, and there is plenty left in that to make the read worthwhile.

message 34: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Wait a minute...do you mean that birthmarks are NOT signs of witchcraft? I think I may have some apologizing to do to some ex-girlfriends of mine....

karen i think it depends on the mark. and if they float or not.

we all know i float.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Haha!

To the stake with ye!

message 37: by Jubilation Lee (new)

Jubilation Lee karen, this will sound insane, but my mother is currently reading this book, and texted me to ask if I could find out "Whose skull is at the bottom of the well?" because apparently this is really stressing her out and she needs to know who is dead before she can read the last thirty pages.



karen hahah you still need this intel?i will PM you if you do, but then it will ruin your own possible enjoyment?

message 39: by Miriam (new)

Miriam karen wrote: "i think it depends on the mark. and if they float or not.

we all know i float."

You probably also weigh more than a duck.

Scott Was anyone else bothered by the reference to the hindenberg?

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