top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Caretaker by Ron Rash

Ron Rash's newest Appalachian-set novel explores a small town shaken by upended expectations, the Korean War, and selfish rigidity that threatens to undo them all.

In Ron Rash's newest novel, The Caretaker, Blackburn Gant is the sole caretaker of a hilltop cemetery in 1951 Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Blackburn lives a quiet life, which is partially dictated by his physical limitations since suffering through polio as a child.

When his best (and only) friend Jacob is sent to serve overseas in the Korean War, Blackburn promises to look after Jacob's wife, Naomi. The two had eloped just months after meeting, which led to Jacob's being disowned by his wealthy family.

Blackburn and Naomi grow close as they anxiously await word of Jacob's fate halfway around the world. When an important telegram arrives, they fear the worst.

A series of elaborate falsifications, outrageous subterfuge, and outright lies creates a tangled web for all involved--and the situation just begs for justice to be served to those blinded by selfish desire and rigid expectations.

I loved the glimpses of rural life and of the specific place and time that Rash crafts so well.

The writing is beautifully spare, and the ending is satisfying in multiple ways.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Doubleday Books.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I included the wonderful Ron Rash short story collection Nothing Gold Can Stay in my Greedy Reading List Six Short Story Collections to Wow You, and I loved his novel One Foot in Eden.

North Carolina's Rash (he teaches at Western Carolina University) is also the author of other books set in Appalachia: Serena, The World Made Straight, Burning Bright, Above the Waterfall, The Risen, and The Cove.


bottom of page