Radio Bristol Book Club: Serena - Birthplace of Country Music

Radio Bristol Book Club: Serena

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:00am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Greed, corruption, obsession, and murder. This is the story you get with December’s book club pick: Ron Rash’s Serena.

Four Serena covers bearing different images: an archive image of timber production in the mountains' a split image showing the back of a woman and a train passing through a rural landscape; a more graphic image showing the dark silhouette of a woman in the woods; and the movie tie-in cover showing the two stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
Cover images for Ron Rash’s Serena, reprinted numerous times over the years including a cover to mark the making of the book into a major Hollywood movie.

Set in 1930s North Carolina, Serena is the tale of George and Serena Pembleton, newlyweds who move from Boston to North Carolina to start a timber company. George, who had already been living there at the logging camp, had fathered an illegitimate son, Jacob, with a local woman named Rachel.

It does not take long for Serena to show her strength, and she soon reveals a great knack for running the company and that she can do anything the men can do. She and George are soon living large and vanquishing anyone who dares to get in their way. When Serena finds that she cannot have children, Rachel and Jacob become targets of her jealous rage. However, Serena soon realizes that they have someone she does not expect on their side.

A black-and-white portrait of the author Ron Rash, looking grizzled and contemplative.
Ron Rash’s portrait from his Harper Collins author page.

In addition to Serena, award-winning author Ron Rash has written numerous novels, poem collections and short stories, including Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. In addition to his writing, Rash is also the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University.

This month we will be meeting on the third Thursday of the month – one week earlier than normal due to Christmas – so make plans to join us on Thursday, December 19 at 11:00am! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on this deep and engaging novel.

And keep an eye out for our full list of 2020 Radio Bristol Book Club picks – they will be up on our website soon!

Amy Kimani is the Executive Director of the Bristol Public Library. When she is not working at the best job in the world, she is reading all of the books in her never-ending to-be-read list.

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