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Serena Paperback – 6 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847674879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847674876
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 280,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


* A stunningly effective novel that is stark, fierce, dramatic and gripping from its unforgettable opening paragraph. -- Janet Maslin New York Times, Top Ten Books of 2008 * It's too hypnotic to break away from. Innocent people are in peril, and calamity seems as unstoppable ... The final chapter is as flawless and captivating as anything I've read this year. Washington Post * In an age when literary fiction is so intent on subtlety that it often winds up virtually inert, a novel with this much uncomplicated gusto and narrative drive is a rare thing; in the case of Serena, it's also a welcome one. Salon * A searing tragedy of Shakespearean proportions - or, in simpler terms, a damn good book that will keep you awake far too late and, well after you've finished it, haunt your dreams. -- Julia Glass, Author Of Three Junes * Rash's evocative rendering of the blighted landscape and the tough characters who inhabit it recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy, while the malignant character of Serena, who projects a "stark unflinching certainty" about her actions, propels his finely paced story. New Yorker * A story that's sprawling, engrossing and - from time to time - nightmarish. The tension builds so well that occasionally you just want whatever monstrosity is approaching to be over. San Francisco Chronicle * Rash is a storyteller of the highest rank and Serena confirms this from the opening sentence to the final page. An epic achievement. -- Jeffrey Lent, Author Of In The Fall * A gorgeous, brutal novel. -- Richard Price, Author Of Lush Life * A brilliant story of passion and revenge. Terrific. The Times 20090815 * This gripping tale of warped psychology is underpinned by thrilling descriptions of the landscape of the Appalachians. Conde Nast Traveller 20091201 * The novel serves up plenty of satisfaction for those readers who seek, above all else, a good story. But the dimensions of Serena widen as Ron Rash puts before us an American parable of greed and overweening pride, a Jocobean drama in nearly modern dress. -- Jay Parini Guardian 20091010 * Rash much lauded in America, was little known here until Serena, a brilliant examination of rapacious capitalism, uncompromising ambition and deranged passion ... By its demonic end, the book has assumed the bloodiness of a Jacobean tragedy, with a body count to match. Uncut 20091101 * If Serena becomes famous as the basis for a coming Jennifer Lawrence-Bradley Cooper movie, never forget that it began as a fierce, breathtaking book, one of the greatest American novels in recent memory New York Times 20130227

Book Description

A gripping piece of storytelling, with an unforgettable woman at its heart – Serena introduces a wonderful novelist to British readers

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on 11 Oct 2008
Format: Hardcover
Serena is an expansion of a long short story by Ron Rash: Pemberton's Bride is the longest and the best of the tales in Chemistry. A second short story from that book, Speckled Trout, was expanded into the novel The World Made Straight. Not many short stories--even long short stories such as Pemberton's Bride--can be made into successful full-length novels. Too often the result has a padded feel to it, as with Edgerton's Bible Salesman, which would have worked best as a novella. But Pemberton's Bride had a power to it, and was intense, compact, dark, and strongly character-driven. There are two central figures--George Pemberton and his new wife Serena--who arrive in western North Carolina to oversee operations on Pemberton's logging operation. A few of the main parts of the plot are altered when the 46-page short story was expanded into a 370-page novel, but the novel is deeper, richer, and darker--there's never a sense of padding.

The very first paragraph of the novel (and short story) quickly set the lasting tone: in 1929 a backwoods father waits on the station platform for the arrival of the Pembertons. He is accompanied by his 16 or 17-year old daughter, pregnant by Pemberton, and carries a freshly-honed bowie knife to plunge into Pemberton's heart. After the Pembertons arrive, some words are exchanged, Harmon draws his bowie knife and approaches Pemberton. "'We're settling this now,' Harmon shouted. 'He's right,' Serena said, "Get your knife and settle it now, Pemberton.'" Which Pemberton indeed does. So you immediately see that Serena is no shrinking violet. She's tough--tougher than Pemberton--and brutal--more brutal than Pemberton. People who stand in the Pembertons' way have an unfortunate tendency to die, usually unpleasantly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Denis Vukosav TOP 50 REVIEWER on 11 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback
‘Serena' written by Ron Rash, an American poet and short story writer, is one of his four published novels from 2008.

The novel is set in North Carolina and it happens during the Great Depression, starting with year 1929. The authors of fiction are often accused of unwell fitting of actual events with fiction action, but Ron Rash made a great research exploring the events and characters that are looming in the background - the establishment of the National Park Great Smoky Mountains. With such a combination of a fictional and documentary, the author has added a pinch of private with descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, where he was born and still lives. Classic style is adapted to the twenties of the last century due to which he was attributed by many as one of the most important authors of the genre and geographical area to which he belongs.

Although the literary and movie world are still adapting to new female heroines, it seems to be quite refreshing from the crowd draw a figure like Serena. As someone said nicely - Ron Rash breathed life to the unmatched villain. Serena is anything but peaceful (lat. Serenus - calm, peaceful). Unscrupulous and beautiful, cruel, but attractive. The author manages to completely fascinate readers balancing between these contrasts

The book begins with the arrival of freshly married George and Serena Pemberton from Boston to the mountains of North Carolina, where wealthy George owns expanses of land and forest base. All will quickly realize that Serena is not one of the women which can be seen around every day. Although new in the area, her personality and ambitions are unmatched by any man. She prefers pants instead of expensive dresses and forestry base of luxurious villas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really don't know if I liked this one or not. I had just read The Cove[see my review]which was a gripping and informative novel therefor I looked forward to my next Ron Rash, but for me Serena is not quite in the same class. Characters came and went without any depth or background so it was difficult to feel anything for them. It starts with our "hero", Pemberton slaying the father of a young girl whom he has impregnated. This in front of his new bride Serena of the title. Is she shocked? Not a bit of it and this is the first hint of what to expect from her. Anyone getting in the way of her blind ambition is dealt with by her devoted Galloway. In an accident he lost his hand, but her quick thinking saved his life leaving him indebted to her and under her ruthless control.
The book starts well and ends well, but the middle section goes beyond belief and drags with the storyline relying on Galloway's sixth sensed mother's ability to see the future.I fear that this is cheating on the part of Mr. Rash.Meanwhile how the supposedly brilliant, shrewd George Pemberton could not see what was coming his way I do not know.
One aspect puzzles me. In Serena and Pemberton there is immediate mutual attraction accompanied by an explosive, physical relationship yet while the descriptions of acts of violence are explicit, the author is rather coy when describing their love making. I am not looking for salacious sex scenes, but as such a big thing is made of their physical passion for each other I would have expected more attention to this vital part of their lives.
The descriptions of life and death in a lumber camp at the beginning of the last century are however explicit and do give a real sense of how hard life was back then for the labouring classes.
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