Serena by Ron Rash
Serena is a Greek tragedy set in the logging country of the Smoky Mountains in the Depression. Serena is the new wife of the logging camp co-owner Pemberton. Upon their arrival back in North Carolina, they’re met by Rachel, who is carrying Pemberton’s child. After Pemberton kills Rachel’s father in a fight/duel, he and Serena refuse to help or acknowledge her and her child. The couple tightens their grasp on the logging camp, with the help of a one-handed murderer named Galloway who does their dirty work. Pemberton’s business partners die in “accidents” and the law is in his pocket. Their cold calculation in planning these murders was really chilling, reminding me of Macbeth. When Serena miscarries her own baby and is unable to bear another, her jealousy of Rachel and her child leads her to target them, causing discord with her husband. Several regular workmen at the camp regularly weigh in on the Pembertons’ fearsome activities, providing the perspective of a Greek chorus. The lush natural descriptions and regional dialects add beauty and flavor to the tale of this ambitious couple. The novel was an enjoyable read, especially for anyone who likes intense, tragic stories and striking settings.
Serena is being made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, due out in 2014. I thoroughly approve of this casting and am looking forward to the film!