Jan M. (Jenks, OK)
Serena by Ron Rash
As a somewhat “over the hill” reader, I enjoyed Serena. I have some letters written by my grandfather describing his life in a logging camp during the Depression. Ron Rash’s description of the harshness of the times was much the same as those described by my Grandfather and it made me sympathize with the loggers and dislike the Pemberton’s even more. Serena’s greed and ruthlessness was the focus of the story, but the lives of her victims were what made the book such a page-turner. The irony in the final pages when the pearl-handled knife that we read about early in the book, showed up in the ending of the story was a brilliant twist to a gruesome tale.
I have recommended this book to our book club. I think it will generate some lively discussion. I’m sure there will be some varied opinions about Galloway’s complete subservience to Serena. What made him a tool for her unconscionable behavior puzzled me throughout the book. I thought the author was successful in creating fictional tale that, was also a glimpse into the lives and times of those who lived during a very difficult period in our nation.
Linda M. (Three Oaks, MI)
Serena by Ron Rash
In this novel, Serena and George Pemberton are portrayed as ruthless, scheming and greedy timber barons who willingly discard human life and the environment in their pursuit of wealth.
Set in the Appalachian mountains during the Great Depression when labor was cheap and more than willing to endure any hardship for a job, Serena and George strip the land as fast as they can to squeeze every ounce of profit from it. No obstacle was insurmountable. Serena was not your typical women of the day…in the end, even she surpassed George in her single-minded heartlessness. I would have liked to have had more of Serena's history to understand her better, but it didn't detract from the novel. The author's eye for detail gave the reader a grim picture of what life was like for the common man during the depressed times.
Overall, this novel certainly had me running through a gamut of emotions from being shocked and appalled to hopeful and gratified and to me, that's what made it such a good book.
Linda G. (Walnut Creek, CA)
Love, Logging and Betrayal
I've been wanting to read this book since it came out, and I'm so glad I finally did! Upon starting "Serena" I found the title character a bit unbelievable and questioned whether I'd like the book. But the discovery of Serena's personality, the way the author unveils her layer by layer is part of the beauty of the book. Sure there is a multitude of evil and greedy characters, but there is also love, a mother for her child, and ultimately hope and redemption. Make sure you can read the last 50 pages in one sitting--you won't want to put it down!
Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)
I love to read. . I'm never without a book or two - and I love to discover new authors. Many times I read a book and enjoy it, (or don't think much about it), then it is lost to my memory.
This is a book that I will never forget.
I was transported to a North Carolina logging camp in the depression era. This was a book of stark contrasts. The beauty of the land vs. it's stripped, harsh ugliness. The violent greed of ambitious people who will not let anybody get in their way. A needy young mother's selfless love. The evil of people who appeared to have everything. Love and hate, beauty and ugliness, greed and benevolence.
A beautifully written, action filled, emotion filled book.
A great book that you will read and remember.
Lynn R. (Wautoma, WI)
I feel that if there are people in this world (and I am sure that there are) that are this selfish and uncaring about human life, they do not need novels written about them! They not only didn't care about their workers and unknown people, they didn't care about anyone close to them.
The only part of the book that I felt had any merit was if the history was correct about the feud between the lumber barons and mine owners and the people who were instrumental in acquiring land for our National Parks. I am sure there were many people who did not agree with these purchases of land, especially during the great depression and if they took jobs away from people trying to feed their families. For two people with the egos as large as Pemberton and Serena to marry and work harmoniously for the same goals, I don't believe it. The character of Galloway in my opinion, to turn from a somewhat normal person to a completely brainwashed fool was very hard to take. The book read very easily and quickly, which I am very thankful for, because I doubt I would have finished it otherwise. I am very glad I did not spend one nickel on this book, just wasted some time.
Cheryl K. (East Aurora, New York)
Serena....intelligent, manipulative, diabolical...She is determined to conquer the North Carolina mountains at any cost, then to rule the the timber empire of the world. The path of destruction she and her husband, George, leave on the land and its people is unconscionable.
I began reading Serena, definitely not expecting to enjoy it. I became a part of 1929 North Carolina and the characters struggling to survive the mountains, the elements, the ghosts and their ruthless employers. Through Ron Rash's beautiful descriptions of the land and his ability to get into the souls of his characters, good and evil, I was truly captivated. What a rewarding experience to read a book you are determined not to like and finish it thinking it is one of the best novels you have ever read!
I would definitely recommend Serena to book clubs, or just as a great reading experience for anyone.
Susan R. (Julian, NC)
GOOD vs EVIL
This is the classic story of good vs evil. On the evil side is Serena - she wants to control the environment and nature. She has no remorse for cutting down trees and totally destroying the environment and the people of the NC mountains. Rachel is the good - she understands the land and is in harmony with the environment and can live off the land. One quote from the book sums it all up "Everything in the world has its natural place and if you take something out or put something in that ought not to be out or in, everything gets lopsided and out of sorts."
It was a book that I couldn't put down and I think that this would be a very good book club choice.