Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 - The Secrets of Eden; Chris Bohjalian




The title alone of Chris Bohjalian's latest book: The Secrets of Eden, drew me in, and never let go. Having read all of this author's books, I can say without a doubt that Bohjalian is one of those talented authors, who can expertly write about controversial subject matters and family issues while keeping the reader hanging on and anxiously turning the pages,

Secrets of Eden takes place in the small town of Haverhill, Vermont. The story is told through the perspectives of four central characters. From the very first pages the reader gets a feel of what is going on in the mind of Reverend Stephen Drew of the local Baptist Church......

(p.3) "On those sorts of Sundays, whenever someone would stand and ask for prayers for something relatively minor -- a promotion, traveling mercies, a broken leg that would surely mend --I would find myself thinking as I stood in the pulpit, 'Get a spine, you bloody ingrate! Buck Up! That lady behind you is about to lose her husband to pancreatic cancer, and you're whining about your difficult boss? Oh please! -- I never said that sort of thing aloud, but I think it is only because I'm from a particularly mild mannered suburb of New York City, and so my family has to be drunk, to be cutting. I did love my congregation, but I also knew that I had an inordinate number of whiners."

And, while all small towns have their secrets, no one including the Rev. Drew, was prepared for what would happen on the very day he baptized one of his own parishioners. On the very day that Alice Hayward came to be baptized in Brookner's pond, she along with her husband George would be found dead. The Haywards along with their teenage daughter Katie were prominent members of the community. At first their deaths were believed to be a murder-suicide, but when the State's attorney, Catherine Benincasa, begins to investigate she is not so sure. Slowly secrets are revealed, which help to unravel the mystery behind the deaths.

I don't want to reveal too much more about this story other than to say that there was one other prominent character in the story which I feel I need to mention. Heather Laurent is an author of spiritual books about angels. While Heather is in the area giving a talk at Bennington College, she hears about the murder-suicide and visits Rev. Drew to see if she can provide some spiritual assistance. Heather seems drawn to the Reverend, and becomes somewhat of a mentor to 15-year old Katie Hayward. Heather, like Katie, lost her parents to spousal abuse when she was about Katie's age.

MY THOUGHTS - In this riveting literary suspense novel, the author does a wonderful job with a difficult subject --spousal abuse, and its effects on a family and community. The author has created a vivid sense of place, a believable story, well drawn out characters and surprises along the way. Readers who enjoy compelling novels that touch on human emotions should not be disappointed with Secrets of Eden. RECOMMENDED (4/5 stars)


(Review copy provided by Shaye Areheart Books / Amazon Vine)

15 comments:

  1. Ooh, this sounds really good! I;ve had mixed feelings about Bohjalian's books. I loved The Double Bind (and was totally taken by surprise by the ending) but found Before You Know Kindness sort of repetitive. I have Midwives on my shelf waiting to be read right now. Looks like I needd to add another to my list! Thanks for the great review -

    Sue

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  2. Sounds like another winner from Bohjalian - my favorite book by him so far is Midwives. Thanks for the review.

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  3. I'm dying to get my hands on a copy of this! It sounds so good.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Bohjalian. He will be coming to the Miami area at the end of February and now I am looking forward to his visit.

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  5. I am waiting for a copy in the mail! I must admit that I sort of scanned your review (so I didn't learn too much), but I can't wait to read the book. I love Bohjalian's novels, and it sounds like this one won't be any different. I'll have to revisit this post to see how it compares with my feelings after reading.

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  6. Glad you liked this. I'm looking forward to reading this some time.

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  7. Sounds good...I'm sure I'll read it eventually.

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  8. I loved every single word you wrote about this book Diane. The snippet you chose was perfect too!! I've often had those same thoughts and found myself wanting to yell it out too! I've already requested this book at my library (they don't have it yet) and I can't wait to delve into it when it arrives!! Excellent review!

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  9. Yea! So glad it delivered! I...can't...wait!

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  10. I haven't read a well-written murder mystery (that wasn't a cozy mystery) in a long time. This sounds like just the one to read.

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  11. Great review Diane. This one is on my list of ones I really want to read.

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  12. I can't wait to read this! Great review!

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  13. I have been eyeing this one. Your review makes me want to download in on my nook.

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  14. I have never read any of this author's works but after reading your review, putting this on my TBR list. Please enter me for this giveaway.
    CMashLovesToRead
    Mash1195(at)aol(dot)com

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  15. I'm currently listening to this one, so I didn't read your review. I'm almost half way through and think it's good. I do enjoy his writing.

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