Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Cove: Lush, Lyrical Prose Makes Up for Plodding Plotline

(Image from Barnes & Noble)
"Dead and still in the world was worse than dead and in the ground.  Dead in the ground at least gave you the hope of heaven" (171).
The Cove by Ron Rash is another one of those books that's proving too difficult for me to describe in my own words.  I'll give you the jacket copy instead, since it does a beautiful job:
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 in 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.   
As you can probably surmise just by looking at its cover, The Cove tells a tale that's as haunting as it is heartbreaking.  Rash brings his characters and setting to such vivid life that the reader can't help feeling a part of them.  Laurel's about as sympathetic as she can possibly be—I wanted her to find happiness just as much as she did.  Her story starts out slowly, so slowly I almost put the book down.  It was Rash's lush, lyrical storytelling that kept me reading, all the way to the novel's inevitable, but still affecting, end.  All in all, I didn't love The Cove.  Still, it's worth the read, if only to experience the deft loveliness of the author's prose.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene and Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence and some sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

2 comments:

  1. It really does sound lovely but I just don't think I can handle a slow book right now. With my limited time it needs to be fast enough to make me want to read.

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  2. I'm not good at bearing with slow books - even when they're beautifully written. My loss, I'm sure.

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