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Serena - General discussion (starts 1 August 2009)

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I've finished this book now and I have to admit to enjoying it a little. Forgetting the mistake with the front cover and some, on occasion, dodgy writing. My interest did wane whenever Rash went off into one about the logging and I agree with others that it felt like he was going to get that part of the story across no matter what.

 

It was different from what I expected and I was intrigued to find out what would happen to Serena and Pemberton.

 

I did think Pemberton was a bit dumb, especially when he didn't realise Serena's plan

 

when she had Galloway "find" the mountain panther and she got him to take Pemberton to shoot it.

.

 

I would pass this book onto my mum - which means I will score it at least 3 out of 5. I don't pass on those that I score low and I do think my mum will enjoy it. She is fairly similar to me with her reading taste.

I'm not convinced I would choose another book by Ron Rash but then again, never say never.

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I did think Pemberton was a bit dumb, especially when he didn't realise Serena's plan

 

when she had Galloway "find" the mountain panther and she got him to take Pemberton to shoot it.

.

It is curious isn't it? I tried to come up with some kind of defence for Pemberton being that naive not to put 2 and 2 together - was he too egotistical? Did he think that Serena still needed him? Was the inevitability of what was coming just too much for him to deal with? Was he kind of resigned to the fact the Serena would get him no matter what? I think it was the latter because his arrogance and ego had all but disappeared by the end of the novel and Serena had more than eroded his masculinity, his power and his authority.

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I said dumb in my previous post but he couldn't have been could he? After all he set up a successful business. Perhaps you're right with one of your theories Hazel;that he just resigned himself to the fact that she was going to get him eventually - although I didn't get that impression when reading that part of the book. He seemed genuinely excited to be off hunting with Galloway. Perhaps he was so infatuated with Serena it just wasn't a conceivable thought. Whatever the reason I thought that bit just didn't fit together - I know I'd never have ventured into the mountains with a man like Galloway!

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I think that Pemberton saw himself and Serena as a team and hadn't considered the possibility that she didn't need him anymore.

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I dont think Pemberton considered that Serena would leave him. I think he still trusted her in spite of all she had done. It is a very strange book and somehow lacks the menace I was expecting. In fact the whole book struck me as strangely emotionless and rather cold (like Serena herself). The loss of the baby should have been horrific, instead I was left wondering what the point of it was.

 

The logging parts were interesting and Serena's bird training. Far and away the most sympathetic (and for me realistic) characters were Rachael, Jacob and the widow. I found the christmas gift of the toy train moving and these were the only people I cared about in the book.

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Did we read a different book? Serena.
I read that, and despite not having been part of the Canongate Read, I did have a similar thought from having read your comments!

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That's such an effusive review I expect it turn up in Private Eye's end-of-year column where they dob in favourable reviewers that turn out to be for books written by their brother-in-law or the like.

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That's such an effusive review I expect it turn up in Private Eye's end-of-year column where they dob in favourable reviewers that turn out to be for books written by their brother-in-law or the like.
I suspect you are right Adrian, though he does concede that Serena herself is one-dimensional. To then call the book "spectacular" does beggar belief.

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I noticed that (s)he did gloss over that annoying little fact and then said something like, "Even so, it's a great book."

 

The site Reviewsofbook has links to 7 reviews of Serena if anyone wants to trawl through them.

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That's such an effusive review I expect it turn up in Private Eye's end-of-year column where they dob in favourable reviewers that turn out to be for books written by their brother-in-law or the like.

 

Jay Parini is a respected professor in the US and he is a regular contributor to the Guardian.

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Jay Parini is a respected professor in the US and he is a regular contributor to the Guardian.
I suspect Adrian was being tongue-in-cheek. No doubting Parini's 'qualifications' to have a review published but it does appear that we read a different book.

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    • By Adrian
      I liked that it neatly used Checkhov's law, 'Show a gun in first act...'

      I read into it that Serena stayed single and Pemberton was the only man she ever needed to help her up to the first branch on her climb to the top of the tree.
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