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Serena: A Novel Hardcover – Sep 29 2008

9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Sep 29 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (Sept. 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061470856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061470851
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #375,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Beautifully written, utterly unforgettable. To my mind, this novel, as powerful and inexorable as a thunderstorm, is as good a piece of fiction as was published last year and a new classic in the category of love gone terribly wrong.” (Anna Quindlen)

“A gorgeous, brutal writer.” (Richard Price, bestselling author of LUSH LIFE)

“Ron Rash’s SERENA will stand as one of the major American novels of this century. It is a flat-out masterpiece-mythic, terrifying, and beautiful.” (Lee Smith)

“From the moment she steps off the train, Serena Pemberton commands center stage in Ron Rash’s rough-hewn tale of unchecked ambition. Universal in scope, frightening in its brutality, Serena is an unflinching vision of blighted souls played out against the backdrop of a nearly-lost Appalachia.” (David Wroblewski, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

“[Rash] has outdone himself. The story of this brilliant, ambitious, seductive woman is 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, National Book Award winning author of THREE JUNES)

“A powerful tale, well told, SERENA is enriched by Rash’s artful use of language. With just the right turn of phrase, dead-on details and subtle use of symbol, he delivers a story that will remain with readers long after the final page.” (Charlotte Observer)

“Beautifully written…” (Seattle Times)

“The opening is unforgettable…the last hundred pages are thrilling…should be a breakthrough for this masterful storyteller.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“An Appalachian retelling of Macbeth, a thriller, a word-perfect evocation of an era and a people, a grim chapter in the history of conservation: if Serena doesn’t finally win Ron Rash the overdue attention of the national literary (and cinematic) establishments, I can’t imagine what they’re holding out for.” (Arthur Phillips, author of Prague)

“This is a must-read novel.” ( (Contemporary Literature))

“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, bestselling author of IN THE FALL)

“Ron Rash’s new novel Serena catapults him to the front ranks of the best American novelists. This novel will make a wonderful movie, and the brave actress who plays Serena is a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination.” (Pat Conroy)

“With bone-chilling aplomb, linguistic grace and the piercing fatalism of an Appalachian ballad, Mr. Rash lets the Pembertons’ new union generate ripple after ripple of astonishment.” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

“A harrowing tour de force that might be the most timely and dangerous novel released this fall... Rash has gone beyond any Southern gothic tale to weave a complex and riveting portrait in the tradition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez...brilliantly conceived.” (Huffington Post)

“Too hypnotic to break away from...And the final chapter is as flawless and captivating as anything I’ve read this year, a perfectly creepy shock that will leave you hearing nothing but the wind between the stumps.” (Washington Post Book World)

“From that arresting opening…the violence escalates along with the tension in this absorbing story about rapacious greed in Depression-era Appalachia…Thrilling stuff.” (People)

“Masterfully written...The book is consistently heartbreaking in its portrayal of what humans are capable of…sprawling [and] engrossing.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

From the Back Cover

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. M. on Aug. 16 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book rather slowly because i had to force myself to pick it back up and learn what these awful people did to everyone. The book wasn't badly written but it was just so darn grim that i didn't enjoy it much.
The two main characters were pretty much pure evil and everyone else was either a puppet or on their 'to murder' list, they just cycled through new people until they had exactly what they wanted. Even in the last chapters when they got their just desserts it still didn't make for much of a happy ending.
I wonder if Jennifer Lawrence can bring some depth to an otherwise hateful character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josie on June 4 2015
Format: Paperback
2.5 stars. I really didn't connect with any of the characters in this book so I think that contributed to feeling very mediocre about this book. I didn't feel a connection with Serena so I wasn't really rooting for her to win or sharpening my pitchfork for her downfall. I also didn't feel particularly sympathetic towards the victim/underdog of the story, so I didn't really feel any fear or suspense for her. I just felt like the whole thing was just kind of bland. It did improve a bit near the end for me but overall it was just okay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By babygrace on Jan. 9 2010
Format: Hardcover
Iloved this book.One of my all time favourites.Serena is a total bitch in every way.She has the wiles and the wickedness of the worst of women,but she is as harsh and brutal as any man Totally compelling read.I so envy anyone who hasnt read this yet,enjoy!
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By Libby Broadbent on Feb. 1 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted more. This is a good thing, 'always leave them wanting more'. This novel reminded me of the movie "Lawless", and the novel "The Sisters Brothers". The reader is thrust onto the denuded hills, and I love, love, love how the details are supplied by the conversations of the workers. A major event happens... and is relayed by the gossip of the camp after the fact. Just like real life. Great book, very vivid and clear, but I wanted more... the ending left me saying "What? It's over? But... I want more!" This isn't a criticism, it just means I hope there's a sequel.
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By Maria Casacalenda TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 20 2014
Format: Paperback
I was bored until about 70% through this book.
It took so long to pick up the pace, it was one of those books that had me wanting to just get it over with.
When it finally stopped talking about lumber and got into the good stuff I became more interested, but it unfortunately didn't make up for the boredom I experienced during the majority of the story.
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