Sunday, February 15, 2015

Serena by Ron Rash

Power Couple in the Logging Industry (Love and Ambition)

Serena by Ron Rash is about a newly married couple who owns a timber company in North Carolina in the 1930s.  While Pemberton efficiently runs his successful logging business, his new bride, Serena, a smart, self-assured, and manipulative woman, steps in with steely resolve to take production to the next level.  Pemberton (as he is ever referred to, even by Serena who never calls him George) is in awe of his wife’s strength and knowledge and proudly watches her smooth management skills not just in the logging industry, but also in their fight to control great portions of wooded land that politicians want to turn into a park—The Smoky Mountains National Park.  To what level of ruthlessness will this power couple take their quest for dominance? 

This book was a page-turner and an eye-opener.  I kept turning the pages because I wanted to see what that slimy Serena and her accomplice husband were up to next. The eye opening portions were the dangers that I never considered in the logging industry—especially in the 1930s.  Safety may have been a concern, but the equipment and standards of the times left room for many gruesome maimings and deaths. And forget workman’s comp.  There was never any concern about lawsuits or finding the next employees to take place of injured or dead workers. Employees were disposable. It was, after all, the Great Depression, where there was always a line of eager men waiting for someone to kick it so they can grab their chance at a paycheck.

This book will soon be a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as Serena and Bradley Cooper as Pemberton.  Should be a good one! It’ll come out in February or March, depending on which source you believe.

This was a book club selection and my book club members thought…..  Well, we haven’t actually discussed it yet.  We’re due to meet in the middle of March but by that time the movie may already be out, so I thought I’d release my review early so that you can quickly read the book before the movie.

Update:  3-15-15.  My book club met and thought pretty much the same as I mentioned:  

Both Serena and Pemberton were evil, unlikable people, but for some reason Serena was worse.  She was the instigator, a calculating manipulator. Serena lived way too long before karma caught up with her.  Satan, I mean, Serena deserved much worse, much sooner. We were also shocked about the logging accidents and safety issues—or basically the non-safety working conditions. We all liked the book and are looking forward to the movie.  

This book met one of my 2015 Book Club Challenges:  Read a book that will or has become a movie. 

Happy Reading,


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