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The Cove Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Mar 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857862618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857862617
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.5 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today's politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer's writer who writes for others" (Colum McCann)

"Ron Rash is a writer of botht he darkly beautiful and the sadly true; The Cove solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists" (Richard Russo, author of EMPIRE FALLS)

"When writers gather and tipple while discussing those not present at the table but admired, the name Ron Rash quickly comes up. He uses language with such apparently effortless skill that it is as though he found words in his barn as a child and has been training them to fit his needs ever since. There's not much he doesn't know about humans in turmoil, or his region, a place where nothing ever changes until all of a sudden it does and often too much. Rash throws a big shadow now and it's only going to get bigger" (Daniel Woodrell, author of WINTER'S BONE)

"The Cove is a marvelous novel, bristling with power, humanity and the exceptional quality of characterization and story-telling we have come to expect from Ron Rash" (Irvine Welsh)

"Remarkable . . . Mr. Rash certainly knows how to rivet attention" (New York Times on Burning Bright)

"Finds a narrow sweet spot between Raymond Carver and William Faulkner" (Washington Post on Burning Bright)

"This book calls to mind Snow Falling on Cedars and Cold Mountain, but the poet in Ron Rash and his lyrical prose elevate this novel to its "Book of the Year" status" (Irish Times on Serena)

"Serena could sit comfortably on any bookshelf alongside Cormac McCarthy or Charles Frazier . . . it's a spectacular book" (Guardian)

"Beautifully written, seriously moving" (Kate Saunders The Times)

"[Ron Rash] appears to derive quiet, almost religious, pleasure in descriptive clarity, so that sentences become little paradigms of the events they describe . . . because of its simplicity, the hard won elegance of its telling, it stays singularly in the mind after it has finished" (Tim Adams The Observer)

"The narrative engrossingly beguiles slyly building to a dénouement that whilst signalled early on is still shocking when it happens" (Carol Treaure We Love This Book)

"The greatest pleasure in it for me was the clear, rather mannered cadence of the prose and the author's fine ear for the speech rhythms of the rural South" (Ursula K Le Guin The Guardian)

"Rash is a brilliant miniaturist. In describing the Appalachian landscape he can enthral the reader for pages just by telling them of the patterns of rust on a fencepost or of shards of broken glass dangling from a tree. Similarly, his portrayal of the region's inhabitants is supremely deft" (George Pendie Financial Times)

"A novel which contrives to be both tender, in the depiction of the developing love between Laurel and Walter, and sharply, menacingly dramatic. The sense of place is vividly realised, and the passages of description are never mere decoration, but create the mood in which action unfolds with what seems a painful necessity" (Allan Massie The Scotsman)

"While Rash sucks the reader in with the plot, it is the beautiful precision of his line-by-line prose that is the real joy ofThe Cove. The descriptions of Laurel and Hank's existence are mesmerising and poetic, never cluttered or overwritten. It is a hard life and that is reflected in the language, but there is elemental beauty to be found even in the darkest recesses of the world and the mind, and Rash finds it in spades" (Doug Johnstone Independent on Sunday)

"The language is ideally pitched to the is a nuanced American tragedy, vividly and traditionally executed with deceptive grace. Rash draws on the darkest elements of the fairy tale and the devices of light and shadow, romance and vengeance, while refraining from the stock sexualisation introduced by many contemporary writers...The closing comments, uttered by a devastated old friend, achieve a Shakespearean resonance. This very fine, dignified, almost stately novel speaks from another time and does so with rare conviction" (Irish Times)


'Rash tells great stories, raw and powerful ... He understands the way life works.' (The Irish Times)

'An unmitigated joy.' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Ron Rash is the best American novelist I have come upon in the last twenty years.' (The Scotsman)

'Exquisite. A breathless sequence of events lead the book to its devastating final sentence.' (The New York Times)

'A mesmerising novel of love and betrayal that stays singularly in the mind after it has finished.' (The Observer) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At the beginning of this story a body is found in a well at an abandoned farm in Madison County, North Carolina. By the end of the book we know who died and how the body ended up in the well, but this book could never be labelled a "whodunit". In 1918 just before the end of World War One and some decades before the discovery of the body, Laurel Shelton and her brother Hank live and work on the farm which is near the cove. Many people in the nearby town think that Laurel is a witch as she has a birthmark, and it is also generally thought that the Shelton's land is cursed, so Hank and Laurel live a lonely life, rarely meeting anyone except their neighbour, Slidell. When Walter a mysterious, mute and illiterate stranger appears their lives are changed forever. The stranger works hard on the farm doing tasks that Hank, who lost a hand when fighting in Europe, finds difficult and thus he wins Hank's trust and Laurel's heart. Meanwhile in the town anti-German feeling runs so high, Chauncey Feith even accuses the college librarian of being a "Hun Lover" because she has books in German on the library shelves.

This story is simple and beautifully told. The harsh realities of the Shelton's daily life and gloom of the shadow cast over their land combine to create an atmosphere of hopelessness until Walter appears and things start to steadily improve. The characters are very real from page one and every reader will be desperate for Laurel to find happiness with the silent stranger as she has been treated so unkindly by the locals. I think I will remember her for a long time.
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By C. Colley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Cove is set during the First World War in a remote American backwater.
The story revolves around brother and sister, Hank and Laurel, who live together on their family farm in 'The Cove'. The locals believe The Cove to be cursed and Laurel to be cursed because she has a birthmark on her neck and face. Her brother, Hank, is a disabled war hero who works hard to improve their farm and to prove his worth to his future father-in-law.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger brings a glimmer of hope into Laurel's lonely life, but ultimately changes the course of their lives.
This is a captivating novel and love story, while exposing the small minded prejudices of a superstitious community. The writing style is descriptive and more sedate than Ron Rash's previous novel, Serena. I enjoyed this book more than Serena, but the underlying sense of misery that Rash conveys leads to an ending that's not easy to predict, but the reader knows it's going to be tragic.
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By tallpete33 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The blurb on this book implied a James Herbert / Stephen King type horror story and in the the prologue a discovery of a human skull in an old well did little to dispel this. However, as the story progressed this was far from the case and The Cove is a classy, intriguing, tragic and fantastic book more reminiscent of Steinbeck then those authors.

The time and setting of the story was North Carolina during the Great War. Brother and sister Hank and Laurel Shelton were ekeing out a living on the family farm in the remote cove which had places that it was said the sun had never reached. Hank was one handed, a legacy of his service in Europe but Laurel had barely left the farm or the town of Mars Hill where her birthmark made her vilified her as a witch in the local community. Alone but for her brother and their friend the ever loyal old timer Slidell, her future looked a lonely one until she discovered the mute stranger playing his flute in the woods. The only clue they had to his identity was a note in his shirt pocket but his music made up for his lack of voice and a bond was formed between her and the itinerant musician who then came to live and work with them.

The author tells the story with great style. Dryer than a rattlesnake's belly, there are gems of wit and charm on most pages particularly in the dialogue. You can sense the paranoia and suspicion of the townspeople on the lookout for "Hun" who could be hiding in the hayloft, spying on them for no purpose whatsoever. The love story was always going to end in tears but the cloud does have its silver lining in this compelling and fantastic read.
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By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 9 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Cove by Ron Rash. As a fan of Southern Gothic literature I had high hopes for this book, but I found this novel hard to get into & to read through. While the prose was of a good quality, the characters didn't really encourage the reader to be emotionally connected to the story. I had to stop & re-start a number of times as I found the plot was dragging, it didn't grab me. That said, it shouldn't detract from the fact this is a good book by a skilful writer, it just wasn't really for me.
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By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
This short novel, which has more real content and lasting power to move the reader than many much longer works, has introduced me to Ron Rash whose writing I shall make a point of seeking out in the future.

The prologue - a device which I normally find superfluous - holds many of the keys to his power as a writer: the clear, economical, unassuming prose; the ability to create a sense of place and people; a suggestion of mystery or menace to hook your interest. There is the rural wilderness of some Tennessee backwater, the isolation and superstition of the local people, who have hung protective charms at the entrance to the dark cove into which the sun never shines, where bad luck strikes the inhabitants, the one spot where locals are happy to see a Government official survey prior to flooding it for a future TVA reservoir.

Ron Rash has already begun to hook me with the yarn of this outsider unravelling some tragedy from the past, when he shifts back in the main body of the story to the life of Laurie Stanton, doomed to grow up in the cove after her father's unwise purchase of cheap land where the chestnut woods prove diseased. Shunned by the nearby townsfolk because of an unsightly birth mark, even regarded by some as a witch, this sensitive, bookish girl gives up any thought of education and escape to run the domestic side of the small farm. Her brother Hank, returned wounded with a lost hand from the First World War in distance Europe, is bent on doing up the farm prior to his marriage. He is only too glad to use the services of Walter, the young camper whom Laurie finds lying sick in the woods, after being drawn by his skilful flute-playing.
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