The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.
Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.
In Depression-era North Carolina, George Pemberton struggles to maintain the future of his timber empire. His life becomes more complicated after his wife, Serena, learns that she cannot bear children.
November 12, 2014 (France)
February 26, 2015 (United States)
Running time: 109 minutes
Bradley Cooper as George Pemberton
Jennifer Lawrence as Serena Pemberton (née Shaw)
Rhys Ifans as Galloway
Sean Harris as Campbell
Toby Jones as Sheriff McDowell
Sam Reid as Vaughn
David Dencik as Buchanan
Blake Ritson as Lowenstein
Ned Dennehy as Ledbetter
Charity Wakefield as Agatha
Michael Ryan as Coldfield
Kim Bodnia as Abe Hermann
Ana Ularu as Rachel
Bodil Jørgensen (uncredited) as Mrs. Sloan
Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O.Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.