Serena by Ron Rash


A New York Times bestseller and PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, Serena by award-winning author Ron Rash is “masterfully written…sprawling, engrossing and—from time to time—nightmarish,” (San Francisco Chronicle); a remarkable novel that “recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy,” (The New Yorker). Rash’s chilling gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America’s burg...

Details Serena

Release DateSep 23rd, 2008
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Adult

Reviews Serena

  • karen
    i am alarmed that i only wrote a four-line review of this amazing book. now that i am starting to read the cove, i figure now is as good a time as any to remind this website just how good ron rash is, and how so far, serena is the best of them. (i am only on page 15 of the cove, so this could change)whenever i try to hand-sell this at work, i will usually just say: "it is like macbeth in a logging community. with a greek chorus." which as a custo...
  • Brina
    Since joining the southern literary trail group on goodreads, I have discovered many gifted authors who I normally would not have considered. It is in this regard that I was lead to the works of Ron Rash, a literature professor at Western Carolina university. Rash has won multiple awards for his novels, and I decided on Serena as the first of his novels to read. George and Serena Pemberton are timber barons from Boston who have set up a logging c...
  • Will Byrnes
    In the primeval woods of North Carolina, young timber baron, George Pemberton, brings his bride, Serena, to live with him in his kingdom. He had been busy enough already, fathering a child with a local girl and clear-cutting wide swaths of land. Serena quickly establishes herself as a power in her own right, knowledgeable about the timber business from her family background in Colorado, frightened of nothing and totally, totally ruthless. She is ...
  • Jeffrey Keeten
    “A kind of annihilation, was what Serena called their coupling, and though Pemberton would never have thought to describe it that way, he knew her words had named the thing exactly.” Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence play the power couple in the 2015 movie.George Pemberton brought back a wife from Boston. More than a wife, more of a force of nature as dangerous as a witch and as pretty as an angel. He feels stronger with her by his side, ...
  • Delee
    I am constantly seeking out books with a Macbeth type theme. Unfortunately that is reeeeeaaaallly hard- There are not that many. :(I also love unlikable characters in fiction- and I adore evil soulmates...because eventually evil people "in love" will turn on one another...and THAT is when things get interesting. One will always be more evil than the other...1929- Waynesville, North Carolina-Newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston...
  • Jeanette
    I read the first 90 pages of this book and couldn't continue. The writing is excellent, quite impressive, really. But when each chapter brought a new form of cruelty to animals, I had to stop. Bashing in a raccoon's skull with an axe...Starving a captive eagle to bend it to your will...Baiting a field with corn and apples so you can shoot twelve deer and a bear for sport, then just leave them all piled in the middle of the field to rot after you'...
  • J.L. Sutton
    I really like strong female heroines and Ron Rash’s Serena delivers on that. You might not like her, but the novel’s title character is capable, resourceful and ruthlessly ambitious. I also enjoyed how Rash used the battle to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (early environmentalists versus timber interests in the late 1920s) to frame his fictional story. As was the case with The Cove (a Ron Rash novel I read in the spring), I wa...
  • Amalia Gavea
    The reviews I had read prior to my reading this novel were very polarized. Many loved it, many hated it. The impression it left me lies somewhere in the middle.Ron Rash's prose is beautiful. It is realistic and earthy, but not raw or unpolished and it helps you visualize the harsh Appalachian landscape, full of lore and superstitions, which is slowly falling prey to the needs of the developing, modern world. The heart of the novel is Serena, a de...
  • Jonathan Ashleigh
    Beautiful descriptions and a great storyline. I don't like the title now that I have finished reading it but I think that is sort of the point and I'm not saying I know a better one. Ron Rash did a wonderful job of making the reader hate the characters that were to be hated, and also feel pity for those that were to be pitied.
  • Grace
    I started this book with high hopes, which may have been part of the problem. But the main problem is the paper-thinness of the main characters. Halfway into the book, I was still straining to figure out which name referred to which character, since none of them had been given any distinct personalities. And I think I'm supposed to admire the main characters, but hate them at the same time since they're fairly heinous? But honestly, I felt nothin...
  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    Find all of my reviews at: “You men notice so little. Physical strength is your gender’s sole advantage.” Allow me to introduce you to Serena . . . . . Aint’ she sweet? Serena has moved to North Carolina to start a new life with her husband, the owner of a timber company . . . . (Don’t worry – this ain’t a kissing book.) Upon arrival, Serena proves she’s not your average Depression era rich bit...
  • Elizabeth
    Wicked good storytelling. Wicked. Good. Love to see the "power hungry female" fleshed out and OWNING it. Truly unlikeable character(s) in actions and deeds. Business partner not agree with your vision? Hunting accident. Disloyalty? Make an example out of him. The courageous and altruistic? SO DEAD. Strip and rape the land, too. Then move onto another country. Repeat. Wow. Just wow. READ IT.
  • Steve
    Strong, resourceful young women are enjoying the spotlight these days in popular fiction. There are enough of them that Jennifer Lawrence can’t possibly play them all in movie versions. Serena qualifies for the club with her street smarts (or its Appalachian equivalent), her initiative, and her poise in the face of danger. Too bad she’s also a bloodthirsty, bad-to-the-bone sociopath. She and her husband George Pemberton are Depression-era tim...
  • Agnieszka
    Not much to say about that one from me. Well-paced, set in North Caroline during the great depression story depictures title charackter who, alongside with her husband, is to create a timber empire. I thought the novel was very well written, with great sense of time and place but unfortunately the main protagonist left me unimpressed. Comparisons to Steinbeck’s or McCarthy’s epic novels feel a bit exaggerated to me. Serena lacks that truth an...
  • Lara
    I would give this three & a half stars if I had that option. Sadly, I do not. I feel a bit shmuckish for not enjoying this book more than I did, and after some serious pondering I have come to the conclusion that I would probably have loved this book if I had a Y chromosome.Seriously.It's not that it isn't entertaining. I just couldn't really get myself to give two craps about any of the characters. And I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to f...
  • Britany
    Serena is a slow burn of a novel brimming with darkness and intrigue.It's 1929 in Waynesville, NC and plowing trees for timber is a booming industry. The Pemberton's reign supreme and negotiage one deal after another to claim the top spot. Serena especially brings an extra layer of female power by leading the men, wearing pants! and training a pet eagle to hunt rattlesnakes. She is one of the most developed characters, I've ever met in a book and...
  • Carol
    Warning! If you do not like ruthless, greedy and revengeful characters, you will not like the story of timber magnates Serena and George Pemberton as they are the epitome of evil to everyone and everything they touch. Set in 1929 North Carolina, they proceed to strip the land with disregard to the environment, treatment of animals or anyone who gets in their way. Starts out with a bang and has a thrilling ending! Update: March 28, 2015 Holy Crap!...
  • Brian
    A beautifully crafted novel of a 20th century Lady Macbethian protagonist with eyes on the world's timber, starting in rural North Carolina. Rash paints a vivid picture of a lumber camp and utilizes the sawyers perfectly as the Greek chorus element in the story. The author also has a deft hand at creating characters - both male and female - even minor actors in the story have the heft of an author who knows the craft. The coda presented a plausib...
  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    Probably one of the most evil women characters that I've read about. The thing is you can't look have to see what Serena is going to do next. Set in North Carolina before the Great Smokey Mtns. became a state park. Tells the story of greed and what some people will do to see their means to an end. Wonderful book filled with characters that will stay with you.
  • Phrynne
    My first book by this author and possibly not the best one for me to have started with. I am going straight down the middle on whether I liked it or not! The writing was beautiful, the background interesting and informative and the story was frequently tense and exciting. However the characters were awful, Serena in particular. A really nasty and amoral woman married to an equally unpleasant man. Nothing to like there. Also I have a history of no...
  • Alex Farrand
    3.5 StarsSerena is about two newlyweds, George and Serena Pemberton, who run a timber empire in the mountains in North Carolina. Serena takes place during the Great Depression, where anyone would do anything for a little change in their pockets, even the Pembertons. What would this couple do to keep their company, and their love afloat? Do you really want to know? At first this novel seemed great, and had a lot of potential. Serena is a bad ass c...
  • Jennifer
    I developed another Rash. This one took me back to the mountains of North Carolina. However, instead of meeting the good-hearted people of The Cove, I was introduced to some of the most ruthless characters in literature. Serena and George Pemberton have never met a living creature (human, animal, or plant) they do not wish to dominate (or destroy) for their own gain. With an element of suspense, Rash weaves a tale of ambition gone awry.Highly rec...
  • Arah-Lynda
    Did you ever read the right book at the wrong time? Such is my Serena.On the heels of my previous read, a forever favourite,The Secret History, still occupying way too many rooms in my head, this one felt barren, almost raw, like no one threw a rug on the floor. It all happens hard and fast. In 1929 newlyweds George and Serena travel from Boston to the North Carolina Mountains where they plan to harvest timber and create an empire. The terrain is...
  • Julie Christine
    Carl Orff’s famous 1937 composition Carmina Burana opens with the epic ‘O Fortuna’. It’s so enormous, spectacular, all-encompassing that the listener can scarcely breathe. The tension and power lead to flights of imagination such that the music inhabits the soul. Maestro Marin Allsop tells us Carmina Burana is “all about fate and fortune and how that impacts our lives, and also the hushed quality after this enormous opening. You know, s...
  • Ashley M
    I was very excited to read this once I read the plot and saw that it had a great cast attached to it for the film adaptation. Not even halfway through the book, I had to force myself to keep reading and to finish it. I kept thinking 'I'm sure something exciting happens and it gets better!' Alas, it did not. There was absolutely no character development at all. Before he met Serena, George Pemberton was apparently a bit of a ladies man, however he...
  • judy
    I'm glad so many people loved this book because I certainly didn't. Early on I suspected that Serena was an escapee from Ayn Rand. I also pegged her as a really nasty piece of work--amoral, megalomaniac--take your pick. It's not hard to guess how the story will unfold but by page 185 hardly anything has happened (except my loathing for this book). The characters seem stereotyped and wooden. For a Southern book, descriptions of the landscape and t...
  • Catie
    I promised a review of this book this week and it looks like I just made it! Phew. Sunday totally counts, right? I finished this book quite a while ago but as always, life intervened and there was much internet-free gallivanting and acres of sand between my toes and billions of hours of driving last week, all of which conspired to prevent me from writing this review. Here’s a picture of where I was:(That's not even a random photo that I found o...
  • Melki
    For some reason, I was expecting this book to be a genteel romance. Yowza! Was I ever wrong! If Wallace Stegner and James M. Cain somehow begat a twisted progeny, I'm pretty sure this is the book that he would write. The story begins with lumber baron George Pemberton arriving home with his mysterious new bride, Serena. It quickly becomes apparent that neither of these characters will be winning any humanitarian awards - ever! Pemberton is a swin...
  • Doug
    This Shakespearean Tragedy-cum-Southern Gothic-cum-Literary Thriller has some truly great moments. It also has some clunky ones. Great MomentsThe opening chapter sets the uneasy tone of the novel perfectly and the strong closing chapter with Pemberton going on the mountain lion hunt will stick with me for a long time. Another moment I strongly "felt" featured Rachel struggling to get her sick baby into town and running into the pack of wild dogs ...