Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Freebie: The Cove by Ron Rash

Congratulations to L. C. Sterling, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Cole.

This week's book giveaway is The Cove by Ron Rash.  I'm very excited to be able to offer Quivering Pen readers a copy of the novel by the same author who wrote what I think is one of the most superb works of fiction in the last 25 years: Serena.  Of that novel, I once wrote: "Rash's novel reminded me, in a good way, of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and Tim Gautreaux's The Clearing. I don't throw the word 'masterpiece' around lightly, but when I toss it at Serena, it sticks."  I haven't had the chance to start reading The Cove (can you say "overcommitted and spread thin"?), but it--like so many other fantastic 2012 releases--is near the top of my To-Read Pile.  I'm fully confident it will be just as good (or better) than Serena.  But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.  Here's the plot synopsis for The Cove:
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.
Booklist had this to say about The Cove: "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."  Amazon picked it as a Best Book for this month and had this mini-review:
Hank and Laurel Shelton live in a lonely Appalachian valley, on the same broken homestead where their parents toiled and died years before. Locals shun Laurel for her witchy birthmark, and Hank struggles to maintain the farm without a hand he lost in the Great War. When a mute stranger arrives, both (especially Laurel) allow themselves hope for a future outside the cove, away from small-town superstition and wartime fervor. But whose skull is that in the well? In the lyrical prose that won him such acclaim with Serena, Ron Rash washes this novel's languid spaces with bucketfuls of atmospheric dread, pushing his characters into the currents of their fate with determined empathy. Murky and deliberate, The Cove solidifies Rash as master of modern Southern Gothic.
If you'd like a chance at winning your own copy of The Cove, all you have to do is answer this question:

On this webpage where he talks about the "story behind the book," Rash said The Cove began with the image of a young woman seeing something when she peered through the branches of a rhododendron bush.  What did that woman see?

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on April 12--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on April 13.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done either or both of those, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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