Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Cove-Ron Rash

The Cove

Ron Rash

Ecco/HarperCollins, Nov 6 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061804205

The Cove lies near the Appalachian North Carolina village of Mars Hill. The villagers fear the Cove as a home for ghosts and fetches. Living near the Cove on the same farm where they grew up are the Shelton siblings. Due to a birthmark, locals ostracize Laurel as a witch who they believe belongs with the shadows of the Cove while her brother Hank has just returned from the front minus a hand. Thus working their family farm is almost impossible as no one will accept a job on land where Laurel Shelton resides.

While at the creek doing laundry, Laurel finds a severely injured Walter Smith, who suffered massive hornet stings. She heals the mute flutist and soon nurse and patient fall in love. At the same time, Army recruiter Chauncey Feith decides Walter is a dangerous adversary working for the Kaiser. An ultra-patriot, Chauncey, emboldened by alcohol, decides to take matters into his hand and eliminate the enemy threat to Mars Hill.

This late WWI drama is a deep atmospheric thriller that warns readers to beware of patriots who claim the flag belongs only to them and those who think the same way as they do. Anyone with a differing opinion is a traitor (mindful of Iraq circa 2003 with Congressional Representatives Ney and Jones changing House cafeterias’ French fries to freedom fries). The Shelton pair and Smith are fascinating fully developed characters while the townsfolk represent uneducated superstitious rural folks; with Feith over the top of Mount Mitchell as a super-patriot flag waiving stereotype. Readers will enjoy Ton Rash’s strong look at the home front during WWI.

Harriet Klausner

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