Serena by Ron Rash
Ecco, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
Copyright 2008, paperback edition 2009, 371 pages

This book was purchased by me for the purpose of reading/reviewing.

To learn more about this book and read an excerpt:

A Pen/Faulkner Finalist Award For Fiction

George Pemberton arrived in North Carolina with his wife Serena to build a large and profitable timber business. The time period is 1929---the beginning of the great depression. Mr. Pemberton had already lived in North Carolina working in the timber camp. He made a trip back to Boston and then when he returned to North Carolina he brought his wife Serena. He had already made an infamous reputation among the local people by having an affair with a girl and fathering a child. Serena wants to be his equal match in every way, and they begin their life together as a dominant and ruthless partnership.

Serena appears to be educated, intimidating, not soft or feminine, she does not have kindness or empathy for others, she wants to share all including become apart of what her husband feels. She is sexually charged, aggressive, rough, and forward. She has gray hard dense eyes, she is not interested in social graces. She is cold, indignant, icy. She is also a mystery--hiding something--which plagues her in her nightmares
George Pemberton is handsome, arrogant, selfish, he takes what he wants and brags of his accomplishments, 
he is a man's man---he loves to hunt and fight, and he takes pride in his physical strength and prowess.
They are an intimidating couple.
Rachel is the girl that had an affair with George and the mother of his child. She has the skills that her father taught her, including an independence to care for herself and her child. She is hard working and persevering, kind yet tough skinned, she has wisdom beyond her years even though she made a bad judgment in becoming involved with Mr. Pemberton. Her mother died when she was young and her father has now died. 
These are the primary characters in the book Serena, there are several other characters that make up the working crew of the loggers, doctors, and other businessmen, and the people that live on this North Carolina mountain community of Waynesville. We are also introduced to the sheriff that becomes a larger role later in the book, Sheriff McDowell.
The books beginning grabbed a hold of me and I had a difficult time putting it down. 
Although Serena was a character unlike most book characters----and I intensely disliked her. She made the book, without her the book would have stumbled about without a vicious villain.
Rachel is the character that most reminded me of the book Cold Mountain (one of my favorite books).
The setting, climate, culture is the same as the book Cold Mountain. Albeit a different time period, but the same type of people and they same cultural beliefs and environment. 
Rachel is the heroine in this story, she reminds me of a burlap cotton dress---burlap is a coarse material and she is coarse from her hard working life, yet she is cottony soft in her love, dedication, and faithfulness to her child. 
I love this book and it was an enjoyable read. Characters are most important to me in a book and this was a fantastic character study. 
I also loved the southern environment and the time period. 
I loved the authors prose writing, the words are full of evocative emotion and breathe. 
One of my favorite quotes:
"He listened to the tapping of the sleet on the tin roof, but soft insistent, like something wanting in."

Blissful Reading!