A little background on the wonderful Jennifer, she is the literacy specialist at the school I work at. She recently just got back from her honeymoon in Aruba where she reveled in the fact that she could actually read for fun instead of as just part of her job. We were talking about the books she read and I asked her if she wanted to write a review to share with everyone! So without further ado...
Author: Ron Rash
Goodreads rating: 3.55
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.
I am not the kind of reader that will watch a movie first before reading the book. I always have to read the book first because I am (almost) always disappointed in the movie. I will start with saying that I read Serena and I couldn’t put it down. Not because I didn’t want to (I did), but because the characters and the cruelty were such a novel experience to me as a reader that I literally could not stop reading in fear that something so horrific was going to happen and that I was going to miss it.
For the first time I thought to myself, this movie might actually be more enjoyable than the book. I say this because the author wrote in very blunt sentences that left me wanting more during the action scenes. I often felt like I had missed something and would have to reread that section, only to realize I hadn’t, it was just Rash’s style of writing. I actually enjoyed that the style of writing was different than most other books I had recently read. The sex scenes weren’t romanticized, but described in a manner that made me think, “Huh, I never thought about it like that before.”
It is a rare occurrence when, as the reader, you LOVE and HATE the protagonist and antagonist (The Pembertons) for different reasons but the same amount. Throughout the story I couldn’t decide who I hated more. At the same time I was also routing for them to have a happy ending. Let’s take the wife, Serena, for example. This character starts off as a kick-ass girl who doesn’t take shit from anyone at a time when women were seen as inferior. I, as a woman, felt connected to her right off the bat. However, as the story proceeds, her kick-ass(ness) turns into crazy-ass(ness) and even though she turned psycho, I still wanted her to have her happy ending, love conquers all, etc. I LOVED the ending, however. It was one of the first times that I said to myself, “I knew that was going to happen, but I really couldn’t believe that it did… so I never thought it would.”
I am really excited to see the movie. I think the movie will do a good job of filling in the blanks of the numerous characters that I had a hard time keeping track of and the actions scenes that I had a hard time believing as the reader. Stay tuned for the movie review on Paperback Princess’s new feature “Movie Monday”!
The Court's Decision: