From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Midwives, and Skeletons at the Feast comes a novel of shattered faith, intimate secrets, and the delicate nature of sacrifice.
"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels.
Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice's daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen - who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.
But then the State's Attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.
Secrets of Eden is both a haunting literary thriller and a deeply evocative testament to the inner complexities that mark all of our lives. Once again Chris Bohjalian has given us a riveting page-turner in which nothing is precisely what it seems. As one character remarks, "Believe no one. Trust no one. Assume all of our stories are suspect."
Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects--homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery--and his latest surely won't disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew's Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel's first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents' marriage also ended in tragedy. Stephen's deeply sympathetic narration is challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen's abrupt departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice), and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards' now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of Bohjalian's more exotic works will miss learning something new, but this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale. (Feb.)
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Showing 1-3 of the 3 most recent reviews
1 . Great book
Posted September 25, 2010 by Susan , Kitchener OntarioI enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were well-developed and the plot was good. I would recommend it to others.
2 . Great read
Posted March 30, 2010 by jrk2579 , HoustonI bought this book the day it was realeased, and I'm so glad I did. It was a great read with interesting characters. Personally, I found it an easy read and will probably reread it soon. Enjoy!
3 . Disjointed and Unfocussed
Posted February 10, 2010 by Steve Anderson , JohannesburgI bought this book looking forward to possibly finding a new source of interesting reading. Unforutnately I found this effort to be disjointed and unfocussed as the plot unfolded.
While I am sure that the author intended to bring the history of the various protagonists to the fore as a means of expanding how they fitted into the story, he unfortunately, in my opinion, only succeded in making the book a difficult read, by forcing the story to stop, rewind and then proceed off in a new direction.
It is an accepted recipe I am sure, in thriller and mystery writing, that the reader is lead into a maze of conflicting theories before arriving at the climax, but in this instance, the outcome was predictable, and arrived at by making the maze more convoluted than was necessary. All in all, a tortuous experience.
February 01, 2010
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