Serena, by Ron Rash, chronicles the lives of a North Carolina couple and their rise to power in the 1929 logging industry. When Serena and George Pemberton marry they return to North Carolina and to Pemberton’s already established logging camp where they intend to build their empire. Pemberton has already fathered an illegitimate child; the pregnant girl and her father are waiting at the train station when he and Serena arrive. Serena quickly dismisses the young girl by telling her she was lucky to have had such a fine sire for her child but that she would never be so lucky again. The girl’s father wants to settle matters, so Serena calmly tells Pemberton that he should get his knife out and do exactly that. It’s in this moment that the reader gets their first glimpse of the powerhouse that is Serena!
Serena is one of the most ruthless female characters I’ve ever read about; she fears absolutely nothing and I loved her for it! Her father was a timber man in Colorado before she became an orphan and he taught her all the in’s-and-out’s of the industry. She proves she can stand up against even the best of men with her logging knowledge- as well as her hunting and riding skills. This would have been extremely unusual for a woman of this era and I loved reading the men’s reactions to her in this regard. When Serena learns she is unable to bear children, she formulates a dark and seedy plan to destroy her husband’s only son, as well as anyone else who stands in her way. This is the ultimate tale of power and corruption!
With his fluid writing and realistic descriptions, Ron Rash pulled me right into the logging town and its beautifully lush, North Carolina landscapes. I enjoyed learning all the historical facts about the logging industry, it’s such an iconic part of American History and truly fascinating! Honestly, the only reason I chose to read Serena was because of the movie and it starring two of my favorites, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. I had never read anything by this author before and I’m glad I chose Serena as my introduction. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves American history; told from the perspective of dark, greedy characters. I believe this would also make a fantastic choice for Book Clubs, especially with the movie just recently released. There is so much about Serena, Pemberton and their ending that could be discussed and dissected for hours, truly a great read!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Author: Ron Rash
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio