title: Serena

author: Ron Rash

genre: Fiction, late 1920’s, timber industry, romance

suggested by: BuzzFeed

dates read: March 25th – March 30th

review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

summary: George and Serena Pemberton are newlyweds building their empire in the timber industry in the North Carolina mountains.  Prior to their engagement George impregnates a young woman of the camp, Rachel Harmon.  As Serena makes her business prowess known, those who displease her feel the affects in very drastic ways.  Their empire continues to grow and Jacob, George’s illegitimate son, also grows.  When Serena finds that she cannot have children, her displeasure is leveled at Rachel and Jacob.  The romance between George and Serena burns intensely, something that cannot sustain itself.   As politicians and environmentalists move in around them, attempting to turn the land into a national park, that intense burn manifests itself in dangerous ways.

personal thoughts: I was not thrilled with the ending of the book (I won’t spoil it), but perhaps it was more realistic that way.  The ruthlessness that Serena showed was aggravating, especially since it seemed she saw no negative consequences  for her behavior.  I did admire her inner strength and the way she was able to show her equality to the men, especially in that time period.  The story itself was compelling and beautifully written.

favorite quotes:
“In Boston with Serena, time had seemed caught within the sweeping circle of watch and clock hands – passing hour and minutes unable to break free to become passing days.” p. 8

“On the edges, Queen Anne’s lace still held the beaded blossoms of dew.” p. 40

“Her face resumed its look of measured placidity, the intensity not drained from her body but spread to a wider surface.” p. 87

“being starved for words was the same as being starved for food, because both left a hallow place inside you, a place you needed filled to make it through another day.” p. 130

“Pemberton felt something shift inside him, something small but definite, the way a knob’s slight twist allowed a door to swing wide open.” p. 254


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