Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times
bestselling author of Serena
returns to Appalachia, this time at the height of World War I, with the story of a blazing but doomed love affair caught in the turmoil of a nation at war
Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe—just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.
Then it happens—a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.
But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything—and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.
This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.
"Veteran novelist Rash (Serena) knits his newest rustic yarn in North Carolina during WWI. Located near the hardscrabble village of Mars Hill, the cove is shrouded in superstition, 'a place where ghosts and fetches wandered.' Nearby, the alienated Laurel Shelton lives with her wounded war veteran brother in an isolated cabin. While out doing laundry by the creek one day, Laurel discovers Walter Smith, an illiterate, mute flutist en route to New York City, who has been incapacitated by hornet stings. As she nurses the mysterious Walter back to health, Laurel begins to fall in love. 'Waiting for her life to begin,' she clings to Walter and the future he represents. However, local Army recruiter Chauncey Feith threatens to ruin all that Laurel and Walter hope for. A rabid anti-German agitator, he begins to suspect that Walter is not who he claims to be. Driven by fear, patriotism, and bloodlust, Chauncey progresses from arrogant drunk to a craven yet dangerous force. The gripping plot, gothic atmosphere, and striking descriptions, in particular of the dismal cove, make this a top-notch story of an unusual place and its fated and fearful denizens. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates Inc." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true; his new novel, The Cove, solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest novelists." Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
"I wish the whole world spoke the way Ron Rash's characters do. Read him for his poetry and great humanity. Just read him." Jennifer Haigh, author of Faith
"Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to today's politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely new. Ron Rash is a writer's writer who writes for others." Colum McCann
"Rash develops his story masterfully; the large cast of characters is superbly realized, as is the xenophobia that accompanies the war, and Rash brings the various narrative threads together at the conclusion of the novel with formidable strength and pathos." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Ron Rash uses language with such apparently effortless skill that it is as though he found words in his barn as a child and has been training them to fit his needs ever since....Rash throws a big shadow now and it's only going to get bigger and soon." Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone
"The gripping plot, gothic atmosphere, and striking descriptions, in particular of the dismal cove, make this a top-notch story of an unusual place and its fated and fearful denizens." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review), Pick of the Week
"Rash effortlessly summons the rugged Appalachian landscape as well as the small-mindedness and xenophobia of a country in the grip of patriotic fervor, drawing striking parallels to the heated political rhetoric of today. A powerful novel that skillfully overlays its tragic love story with pointed social commentary." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Lonely young woman meets mysterious stranger. What might have been trite and formulaic is anything but in Rash's fifth novel, a dark tale of Appalachian superstition and jingoism so good it gives you chills....Even better than the bestselling Serena (2008), for here Rash has elevated melodrama to tragedy." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Mr. Rash's writing is so richly atmospheric...[he] can make words take wing....A breathless sequence of events lead the book to its devastating final sentence. And that sentence affirms Mr. Rash's reputation for writerly miracles." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"[B]eautifully crafted...In [the cove's] story, we hear the unique voice of a region made all the more poignant for how few will ever hear it exactly this way again." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Here is a magnificent tale that captures the wondrous beauty of nature and love — and the darkness of superstition and fear — from one of America's most exciting contemporary novelists. With The Cove, Ron Rash, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Serena, returns to the Appalachian milieu he has previously so memorably evoked. A two-time O. Henry Prize winner for his short fiction — and recipient of the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Story Award and the 2010 SIBA Book Award for his story collection Burning Bright — Rash can expect more honors for The Cove, a novel that brilliantly explores often dangerous notions of patriotism during wartime. This story of a love affair doomed in the rising turmoil of WWI resonates powerfully in today's world.
About the Author
Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them 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. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.