NEW TITLES: AUGUST.
Booklist Reviews 2008 September #1
*Starred Review* Rash's short stories and previous novels are all set in Appalachia and enriched by the region's unique history. This is his most gripping work yet, a sweeping saga of unfathomable greed and revenge that grabs the reader's attention from the first page. The Depression-era tale is centered on newly married George and Serena Pemberton, owners of a logging company in the mountains of North Carolina. Their operation is aimed strictly at maximizing profits, with no regard for either the safety of their workers or the future of the land they're pillaging. The tragic result of environmental disregard looms large in all of Rash's fiction, and the Pembertons are his worst villains to date in that respect leaving behind a wasteland of stumps and slash and creeks awash with dead trout. Side plots involve the drastic means, including murder, the couple employs to avoid losing land to environmental groups and Serena's unflagging pursuit of the young girl who bore George's son shortly after he and Serena were married. With a setting fraught with danger, and a character maniacal in her march toward domination and riches, Serena is a novel not soon forgotten. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2008 June #1
This is a violent story about ambition, privilege, and ruthlessness played out in an Appalachian timber camp in North Carolina during the Depression. The novel opens with the camp's wealthy owner, George Pemberton, returning from Boston with his new bride, Serena. He is met on a train platform by his business partners—and by camp kitchen worker Rachel, who is carrying his child (and meeting the train with her angry father). When George leaves the platform, Rachel's father is dead, and Rachel herself has been spurned and humiliated. The novel is richly detailed, and many of the characters are skillfully drawn by Rash (The World Made Straight ). Unfortunately, though, the Pembertons—who are rapacious and monstrously self-absorbed—often seem one-dimensional and implausible. Serena is particularly hard to believe at times. Still, parts of the novel are superb, particularly the final section when Serena turns violently against Rachel and her son. The Pembertons create a wasteland in these beautiful mountains, and Rash also renders that loss powerfully. Though flawed, this manages to be an engaging read. Recommended for libraries with large fiction collections.—Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT[Page 93]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2008 May #3
Depression-era lumber baron George Pemberton and his callous new wife, Serena, are venality incarnate in Rash's gothic fourth novel (after The World Made Straight ), set, like the other three, in Appalachia. George—who coolly kills the furious father of Rachel Harmon, the teenage girl pregnant with George's bastard son—is an imperious entrepreneur laying waste to North Carolina timberland without regard for the well-being of his workers. His evil pales beside that of Serena, however. Rash's depictions of lumber camp camaraderie (despite deadly working conditions) are a welcome respite from Serena's unrelenting thirst for blood and wealth; a subplot about government efforts to buy back swaths of privately owned land to establish national parks injects real history into this implacably grim tale of greed and corruption gone wild—and of eventual, well-deserved revenge. (Oct.)[Page 30]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.