SECRETS OF EDEN
BY CHRIS BOHJALIAN
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.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of thirteen books, including his brand new novel, Secrets of Eden -- which arrived on February 2 and debuted at # 6 on both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.
His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before You Know Kindness, The Law of Similars, and Midwives.
Chris won the New England Book Award in 2002, and his novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, a Publishers Weekly "Best Book," and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. His work has been translated into over 25 languages and twice become movies ("Midwives" and "Past the Bleachers").
He has written for a wide variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and has been a Sunday columnist for Gannett's Burlington Free Press since 1992. Chris graduated from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.You can learn more about him here and on facebook . And, if you like, follow him on twitter as well.
DOUBLE BIND was one of my favorite books in the past few years so when I saw that Chris Bohjalian had a new book out, I had to read it. In SECRETS OF EDEN, he has my deepest thanks. Bohjalian certainly did not disappoint! In a book that deals with some fairly controversial topics, and can be quite heavy reading, Bohjalian’s writing enables the reader to breeze through the book, hardly waiting to turn the next page. Due to the well-developed characters and the fascinating story line, this story plays tricks on your mind.
Reverend Stephen Drew is the minister who baptizes Alice Hayward in the river, and he is troubled when she quickly leaves the service. His only comfort is in meeting with the author of several books on angels, Heather Laurent. Heather believes in angels, has seen them, and sees the possibilities of all they can offer a human. Her writing is so inspirational to many that Stephen Drew is caught up by her as well. When Heather goes home that very night and is murdered, Stephen blames himself. He feels he should have done something to save her and eventually this causes Stephen to suffer a great crisis in his life. And he is not alone as the town people feel they should have helped as well. Didn‘t they all see this coming? And what of Heather’s daughter, Katie?
All this could be very confusing except that Bohjalian presents the story through the voices of four narrators. Each one narrates a different section of the book and these are the most fascinating characters I have encountered in a long while. They are what make the story work and move along with their own different parts, and somehow it all meshes. Stephen was, I thought, the most sympathetic character for the most part and you could strongly feel his pain in Part I. The next two parts seem to make sense but also cause the reader to doubt what they read before. You don’t know who to trust! This is what I meant by the mind games. The last part has them all come together and is narrated by Katie, and we start to see how the social issues such as domestic abuse can affect not only the spouse but also the children and family that is involved. I realize this may sound confusing but truly makes sense as you read it, until another character throws doubt and suspicion in the reader’s head. Of course, not to disappoint, Chris Bohjalian, as in DOUBLE BIND, throws in a great twist at the end. You will find yourself going back to analyze why and when and where and how did I miss that? Just like DOUBLE BIND, SECRETS OF EDEN is a great book for discussion so I strongly recommend if you aren’t reading this with a book club, be sure a friend or family member is because it makes you crazy not to have someone to discuss the book with after you finish reading it!
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