“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
The Piedmont Land Conservancy selected Rose Senehi’s Render Unto the Valley (K.I.M. Publications) as its book club selection for June. The book touches on land conservation in the western part of North Carolina and highlights the daily work of a land protection staff member. It’s a great read, particularly if preserving our history and heritage through the land is important to you.
In Render Unto the Valley, 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 a part of.