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The Cove Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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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 (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 983,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'Superstitions are just coincidence, or ignorance.'

The Cove was one of the books I bought on my kindle just because it was there, I had no idea what it was about other than some outcasts, shunned by the rest of their town. The cover looked creepy (I know, judge me for judging the cover) and I thought... I need holiday books - why not!

Laurel and Hank Shelton live in The Cove a small, isolated harbour off of a small, isolated town in North Carolina. Laurel is shunned to live off the land in the cove, rarely leaving its dark loneliness due to a wine stained birth mark on her shoulder, promoting the rest of the town community to see her as a witch, they both fear and despise her.

Her brother Hank lost his hand in the war, but gained enough respect from the town to gain himself a prospective wife. Finding out that Hank plans to leave her alone in the cove for his new wife, Laurel falls into a depression about her future. Till one day, a mute flute player comes into their care. Laurel falls in love with not just his music, but him, and even Hank starts to see him as someone who could stay with his sister forever.

Its a slow, sad novel. If you're looking for a perky read, this definitely isn't it. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a holiday read... to me holiday books are chick flick, Hollywood glam, easy read types. The type of books you're a little embarrassed to publicize that you're reading. Though this does have romance within it, The Cove isn't a romance novel. Though Laurel clings to the idea of a deep loving future, her loneliness and sadness overrides this.

The contrast between the characters in The Cove, and those from the town makes you sympathize with Laurel more - they're dicks basically.
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By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Deep in Madison County's Blue Ridge Mountains is that cove cursed? The Cherokee had always kept well away. Even now local inhabitants rarely intrude, wary of the brother and sister eking out a living there - Hank, just back from The Great War minus an arm; Laurel, surely a witch with such a sinister birthmark. Enter enigmatic stranger Walter. He never speaks, but his flute playing enchants and he proves a fine worker. Can all be about to change, the humble farm at last to flourish?

Rich in atmosphere, this evocative tale grips all the way through. Here are three characters to care about - especially Laurel, all her life taunted and reviled. Miss Calicut, her wise and sympathetic former teacher, has never failed to support. Help also comes from shrewd old neighbour Slidell. He recognizes true worth when he sees it, Laurel and Hank overdue for happiness. Yes, perhaps now the little farm will prosper - the cove become a haven, as the outside world bubbles with superstition and prejudice.

It is a sign of fine writing, often lyrical, that the reader becomes so involved - turning the final pages with increasing anxiety, hoping so much all will turn out well.

A spellbinding novel, with lasting impact.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the first novel I have read by this author.

From the very first page you are able to feel the author drawing you into the unfolding of the story with the most beautiful, descriptive and atmospheric writing.

You cannot avoid the sense of impending darkness with all the undercurrents which he develops - symbolised by the large dark outcrop of granite which overshadows the valley where the brother and sister live, and prevents sunlight from reaching part of its landscape – and the tale continues from there.

I love the way this author writes as it so skilful in the way it is very precisely and economically worded without a trace of being overdone – which is so rare.

I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more of his work.
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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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