By Ron Rash
Ecco, 2012. 255 pgs. Fiction
Laurel Shelton has spent her entire life in a secluded cove deep in the Appalachians of North Carolina. Her family has a history of bad luck that ostracizes them from neighboring families, and an unfortunate birthmark makes her especially suspect. Her only surviving relative, her brother Hank, seems to have escaped the family curse, partially due to losing an arm while fighting in the still bloody battlefields of World War I. Then enters a mute stranger who may save Laurel from the solitary life she believes she is fated to live.
The ugliness of deep prejudice is a major theme in this beautifully written novel. Laurel’s life includes so little kindness that readers can’t help but desperately want her to find love, acceptance, and if at all possible, escape from the life she was born to. The home front of World War I provides a fascinating backdrop and historical details that many people may not be aware of. ‘The Cove’ is heartbreaking but somehow still hopeful and a pure delight to read.