LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
• SERENA, Ron Rash
This year, I made a concerted effort to read Appalachia-based novels and this was one I discovered after a trip to Joseph-Beth in Lexington. The fact that it won the Pen/Faulkner award for fiction impressed me at first (I, actually, regularly rely on book awards to help me make my picks), but it was of course the story that drew me in. It’s not often that the protagonists are villains, but Serena and George Pemberton certainly are. The story is set in 1929 in the North Carolina mountains where George brings his new bride Serena to help run his timber company. As their greed to expand their company into an empire grows, they’re willing to do anything to succeed.
• THE GLASS CASTLE, Jeannette Walls
Another fast, addictive read, this book tells the story of the Walls children and their unreliable parents — their free spirit mother and alcoholic father. The story is told in the first person by Jeannette, one of the Walls children who is forced to be along for the unpredictable ride. The first-person narrative lends an intimacy to the story of Jeannette’s childhood, which is at once heartbreaking and magical.
• NEXT UP: GRAVY, GRITS AND GRAVES, by Vicki Blair
I’ve heard a lot of people raving about this book and can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy. The story is set in McWhorter and, according to the Tate Publishing website, involves mystery, intrigue and romance. First off, the title of this book is fantastic, and the story sounds intriguing too.
So, that’s my list for now. I’m headed back to the couch to turn some more pages and drink some more tea. I hope your afternoon will be just as lovely.