By Heather A.
I really enjoyed the premise of this book more than the actual storytelling. It’s about lumber barons, a husband and wife team, Serena and [first name?] Pemberton, who are newlyweds living in the North Carolina mountains in the 1930’s. They are successful despite the Depression, and Serena is the perfect wife and business partner for Pemberton. Her origins are sketchy, but her husband, known as Pemberton, is not disturbed by this. Upon arriving in NC, Serena and Pemberton are confronted by a woman, Rachel, carrying Pemberton’s child (a child made before Serena and Pemberton met), and her father. Pemberton and the father get into an altercation, where Pemberton kills the father in “self-defense,” forcing the woman and child into squalor. Serena at first doesn’t see Rachel as a threat, but when Serena miscarries in her third trimester, causing her to be unable to carry another child, this is the only thing she cannot provide for Pemberton. Meanwhile people in the work camp are dying mysteriously, from business investors to any who threatens the perfect bond of Serena and Pemberton.
Rachel and her child are the only people who successfully escape the reach of Serena and her henchman, but this is because of a hefty sum given to Rachel from Pemberton. Too bad for Pemberton when Serena finds out.
My main issue with this was that the pacing was slow. We are bogged down with issues about government officials threatening to take their land for a national park and political conversations about Rockefeller, which I was not interested in reading. Serena is presented as a strong woman, who chose Pemberton because he is her equal, but when you realize that she probably killed her family, you know that she is just a psychopath. It will be interesting to see this book adapted for the big screen.