Render Unto the Valley by Rose Senehi
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“Render Unto the Valley is a many-stranded tale of three generations of a star-crossed family struggling to mend itself and preserve something of its rightful heritage. In the midst of this tempestuous story stands Travis Whitfield, as stony hearted a bad hat as you are ever likely to meet. But the female forces arrayed against him are formidable. Are they strong enough to prevail? Read and you’ll find out. But be warned: It’s a breathless ride.”
—Fred Chappell, North Carolina poet laureate emeritus and author of Ancestors and Others and Look Back All the Green Valley
"Senehi offsets suspense with local preservation and history details, and delivers handsomely. ...even late in the novel, there are some intriguing surprises. Ignore the archaic title and glib first paragraph... and enjoy the ride."
—Rob Neufeld, "The Read" on WNC, December 28, 2011
Karen Godwell isn't as much ashamed of her mountain heritage as of what she once had to do to preserve it.
Karen reinvents herself at college and doesn't look back until her clan's historic farm is threatened. The gutsy curator at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returns to the mountains only to come face to face with who she was and what she did.
Descendants of the early settlers still have a grip on the farmlands deep in the folds of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, but the ground is shifting beneath their feet. Cousin Bruce, the town historian, sees life through the family's colorful 200-year past; Tom Gibbons, a local conservationist, keeps one eye on the mountains and the other on Karen; Karen's nine-year-old daughter, Hali, is in the throes of the mission her dying father sent her on; and Karen is hiding the ugly secret that drove her away.
As she wrestles her dangerously cunning brother for the farm, Karen straddles the divide between the staunchly independent mountain culture she comes from and the sophisticated world she has become part of.
Contemporary fiction writer Rose Senehi is noted for weaving environmental themes into the plots of her novels. A resident of Chimney Rock, North Carolina, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, Senehi moved to the South from Upstate New York in 1996. Render Unto the Valley is her sixth novel and the third in a series that take place in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Her fourth novel, In the Shadows of Chimney Rock, was a 2009 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award finalist, and her fifth, The Wind in the Woods, was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award in 2010. Her other novels are Pelican Watch, Windfall, and Shadows in the Grass.