Author: Ron Rash
Publication Date: October 7, 2008
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads: **kind of spoilery**
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.
I gave a spoiler warning for the book description on this one, because when I read it after finishing the novel, I realized it basically outlines the ENTIRE thing, except maybe the last 10 pages. What's the fun in that?? Read the first two sentences of the description and that's enough to get you started, I'd say.
Serena is the latest novel chosen by my MOMS Club book club. We decided to choose a book that is being/has been turned into a movie, so that we could both read and watch and then compare. We had a lot of good options on our final voting list, but let's be honest--we all knew the ladies couldn't resist a Bradley Cooper movie, AMIRIGHT??
We have yet to see the movie (I'm still not entirely clear when it's being released--apparently this was a real disaster of a film project?), but having recently finished the book, I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss!
I'm happy that I didn't read the entire description of this book beforehand, because I was able to go into the novel with a fresh look at all of the characters. On page 1, I loved Serena. I thought she was one seriously bad-ass bitch (especially given the Depression-era time period), and I couldn't wait to see what she had up her sleeve.
The book moved a little slow after those initial pages, but bit by bit, I started to see what Serena was really all about. First I just had some doubts about her, but then...well, they became much more. The best part of this novel is definitely watching Serena's layers unfold.
Another plus: I like how the author occasionally relayed the story from the lumber workers' perspectives, especially when Serena and George did something...unsavory. It gave an outsider's view to their actions that made the narrative much more colorful.
Overall, I'm happy to say that this book was a hidden gem for me. I wasn't expecting much (especially because I had never heard of it before my book club voted for it), but it's an excellent story with some truly twisted characters--much more of a psychological thriller than I thought I would get from this historical fiction novel.
What's the last book-to-movie adaptation you read? How did the movie compare?