Yet when Serena begins to suspect that George's allegiances may lie elsewhere, she unleashes her full fury on the young mountain woman who bore his illegitimate child the year before. Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a powerfully riveting story that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.
©2008 Ron Rash; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I loved listening to this book. The narrator's change in voice for characters made them come alive for me and I realized about halfway through that reading the book would not have been nearly as entertaining. I particularly liked the "Greek Chorus" voices as they pulled much of the story together. Serena is an evil character--that's evident early on, but the ending was still a surprise.
I actually really enjoyed this book despite some of the other reviews. I loved the characters and loved to hate Serena, I loved the ending it through me for a loop and was left thinking about the book for a week or two after I had finished it. Great work Mr. Rash
Don't be swayed by the poppycock reviews above. Ron Rash writes with a clean, simple, and immersive style similar to McCarthy or Proulx. The narrator of the book does an adequate job of distinguishing between characters, and though he may not nail the accents Rash's dialogue is true to the language of the region. Being a native of the borderlands between Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina it is thrilling to read a skilled author write about my region with both accuracy and admiration.
Rash's fiction has been slept on for far too long, and his work is gaining well-deserved national attention. Academically his work has been respected for several years now, and his novel One Foot in Eden is now required reading for incoming freshman at the University of South Carolina.
Through much of this book, I was prepared to hate it. The character of Serena walked the edge of a stereotypical strong, yet witchy woman. I wanted so much to be surprised and to have Serena be different, to have her be complex and multi-layered. I wanted to feel conflicted about her. All of my wishes were granted and much more by Ron Rash.
This book seems like a simple story, but it's not. There are multiple stories and themes and social commentary and character developments all going on at the same time. I'll be fascinated to see how it is played out in a movie because the complexity of these characters can be tough to portray in 2 hours.
Buy this book and listen to it, and when you do, pay special attention to the group of guys that I deemed "the clowns" in my mind. Rash uses them like the "chorus" from theater of old (except much more entertaining). Rash moves the story along and brings comedic relief with a group of workers who are funny and smart and are on the outside looking in--they are the guys who REALLY know what's going on. They are originally led by the camp's preacher. It took me a few chapters to really appreciate them and I wish I'd been astute enough to realize how important they were to the story from the beginning.
I gave the performance only 4 stars because the narrator didn't become as invisible as he could have. I was impressed at his voice of Serena, but his general narration was overly dramatic and he struggled in switching between accents.
Phil Gigante was a bad choice for narrating this multi-character story set in North Carolina. His rural southern accents were often caricatures, but the major problem was his voicing for women. Serena sounded like a drag queen imitating an evil aristocrat, and Rachel -- a very strong female character -- sounded developmentally disabled. For me, the reading almost ruined a good book.
The suspence and intensity
The mother of the illigiment son
When the young mother walked to the doctor thru the snow.
The ending caused a lot of discussion in my book club.
I really enjoyed this book but probably would not listen to it again. I rather listen to another book.
Comparisons to Macbeth and Greek tragedy notwithstanding, this novel is a waste of time. Its prose is pedestrian. That it is on the NYT's Best Seller List says more about the tastes of the American public than the quality of the book. Serena is the ultimate sociopath. Other authors create "bad" characters but manage to invest them with characteristics and personalities which make them interesting in spite of their flaws -- not so with Serena.
The narrator affects a grating southern accent which he uses for the locals as well as the Bostonian Pemberton.
The book deserves a bodice ripping cover to convey its nature.
Not much else to say except that the reader added nothing, and for someone who lives in the South not far from Ashville the book was hard to listen to.
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