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The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive from Boston in the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire. Serena is new to the mountains – but she soon shows herself the equal of any worker, overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Yet she also learns that she will never bear a child. Serena’s discovery will set in motion a course of events that will change the lives of everyone in this remote community. As the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel, this riveting story of love, passion and revenge moves toward its shocking reckoning.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Serena is a monster

It is the 1920s in Carolina and the ancient woodland is being cleared and sold for profit. Serena Pemberton is brought as a wife to a logging camp where she lives with the owners as they extend their empire and push their workers as hard as they can and often too hard for safety. The author conjurers up the life lived at the logging camp in a time where there is little or no law and where might and money are all powerful. As the book progresses Serena uses her position and the power it gives her to take control and turn events to her benefit. She pursues her husband's mistress and his child out of jealousy, she takes action against those she perceives as disloyal, and as time goes on she begins to turn on anyone who gets in her way.

Serena is a monster and the people she lives with and the time she lives in allow her to do monstrous things. I don't think I have ever seen such a well realised and chilling female character since Cathy in "East of Eden". You become aware of her nature long before those around her but when they begin to realise what is happening the tension rises and you see how the lawlessness of the times and the character of the woman have people trapped.

I was gripped by this book - and chilled by it too. The success of the story hangs on the character of Serena and this is excellently done. It is also interesting how the author shows us the destruction of great woodlands for profit and the destruction the logging leaves in its wake as well as the destruction that Serena causes. This is clever and powerful writing and an interesting insight into a particular historical event.

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