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Serena

By: Ron Rash
Narrated by: Phil Gigante
Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
3 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Summary

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive in the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire, vowing to let no one stand in their way, especially those newly rallying around Teddy Roosevelt's nascent environmental movement.

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.

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This really is tosh

I bought this over a year ago on the basis of a book review, but I cannot think why the reviewer recommended it - or, having reread Audible's description, why I bought it. The Mills and Boone style cover picture and the book description, "...Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty .... " should have been enough to warn me off. The characters are 2-dimensional and what on earth does 'a masterful balance of violence and beauty' even mean? There's a lot of nasty violence and it's full of stereotypes. The plot is a bit like a 1950's film plot brought up to date with graphic violence and inclusion of environmentalism. Years ago my local library had a big section of romance, crime and westerns, near the door. It saved the readers rootling through the rest of the library to find what they wanted. It was referred to as the Tripe section. I don't know if libraries still do this but it's where this book belongs. If this brand of tripe is your thing - if 'a masterful balance of violence and beauty' means something to you, it might be just the thing. For myself I'm embarrassed to have it on my phone and am trying to work out how to remove it from my Library.

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Serena

I just cohld not gdt into this book st all I founf thr naration slow i just kept falling asleep will be returning this book

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    3 out of 5 stars
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I wanted it to be better

This is one of the best narrations I've listened to so far. Phil Gigante is superb! I don't think I'd have enjoyed this as much had it not been for him.
I had high hopes for the story but it fell a little short. It is worth sticking with it to the end but I wished it had hurried up and gotten to the point a little faster.

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Profile Image for David Shear
  • David Shear
  • 21-08-13

Subtle Genius

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.
I recommend.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jessica
  • 21-05-09

Really enjoyed! 28 yr. old male reviewer

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

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karl
  • 14-04-09

Ron Rash = the real deal

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Georgia Burns
  • 06-05-16

My worst audible experience

My mother said if I couldn't say anything nice don't say anything at at all. Sorry, Mama. On the page this would have been bad enough with almost stick-figure characters. The narrator's rendition of Serena's voice made listening almost unbearable. I could go on but I already feel bad enough. Only wish I could remember how it ended up in my library. Maybe Bradley Cooper's picture on the cover?

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ellen Murphy
  • 04-03-09

Great Listen

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.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Ann
  • 28-02-15

Author needs a dictionary

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The characters were cartoonish. The author misuses words such as "Jodhpurs" and "draping". I can't understand why this book was given any awards.

Would you ever listen to anything by Ron Rash again?

No.

Did Phil Gigante do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The narrator was fine. I don't blame the narrator.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Extreme disappointment. Once I started noticing usage errors I had a hard time paying attention to the story line. I did finish it, just to find out what happened, so there is that.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Patricia
  • 11-02-13

Ron Rash is a great writer

What made the experience of listening to Serena the most enjoyable?

The suspence and intensity

Who was your favorite character and why?

The mother of the illigiment son

What does Phil Gigante bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Drama

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the young mother walked to the doctor thru the snow.

Any additional comments?

The ending caused a lot of discussion in my book club.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Stefanie J. Fitte
  • 15-04-15

Don't waste your money

This book was slow and not entertaining at all. The narrator did a good just but the story wasn't good.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheryl
  • 15-02-15

Serena

Although this isn't the type of story to which I am attracted, the narrator did a superb job in his performance. I finished the book because of the narrator's outstanding job.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • 11-02-15

Ok

This book left me very unfulfilled and lacked any real substance to the story. I would have liked more back story and character development on the main character Serena.

1 person found this helpful