Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SECRETS OF EDEN: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
SECRETS OF EDEN

BY CHRIS BOHJALIAN

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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.

REVIEW:

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!

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO KIRA AND THE FINE PEOPLE
AT RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING,
I HAVE TWO COPIES OF THIS THRILLING
BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN!



--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!


HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT MY REVIEW OR SOMETHING YOU QUESTIONED OR FOUND INTERESTING IN IT

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT CHRIS BOHJALIAN BY VISITING HIS WEBSITE HERE. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE THAT YOU MAY WANT TO CHECK IT OUT.

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE WITH YOUR LINK

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, MARCH 4

78 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I found it interesting that Secrets of Eden is told from multiple points of view since I love stories told that way. Please enter me. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

bermudaonion said...

I learned how to pronounce Chris's last name - Bow-jail-yeh
milou2ster(at)gmail.com

wheresmyrain said...

+1
i like how you say that he deals with heavy concepts in a way that makes good reading, I agree and its something to look for in a good writer

wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com

wheresmyrain said...

+1
i found via his website that i had never pronounced his last name in my head correctly, very satisfying to realize it is pronounced
Bow (as in the ribbon) -- jail -- yen.
wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com

Sarah Osborne said...

I like that you recommended it as a good book for discussion! I'm sure book clubs would love it.

sarahosborne12(at)gmail(dot)com

Sarah Osborne said...

I found it interesting that the author has written for Cosmopolitan and Reader's Digest!

sarahosborne12(at)gmail(dot)com

Sarah Osborne said...

I blogged!
http://myfavoritegiveaways.blogspot.com/2010/02/secrets-of-eden.html

sarahosborne12(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

There is a twist at the end..that sounds fun.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

There is a noose in his attic and a door in the basement that goes nowhere.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

holdenj said...

I'm really curious now, about how you're mentioning the various sections play tricks on your mind. I like the idea of four narrative points of view, perhaps these views are going to confuse us? It looks great, can't wait to read it! Thanks.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

Well, I went right to the Snoopster article about him, because the bio at his site seemed so pedestrian! I love that he collects and uses fountain pens! I went through a phase trying to use them myself, but as a lefty, it didn't always turn out the way I imagined! Thanks again.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

tetewa said...

Sounds good, I'd like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

JoanneR said...

Loved learning how to pronounce his last name correctly!
Am a follower.
joannereynolds at sbcglobal dot net

traveler said...

Yuor review captivated me and I am fascinated with this wonderful novel. Thanks for this giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

His website is wonderful. I learned about when and why he left Brooklyn and bought his home in Vermont. Very interesting. The photos are great. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Your frequent mentions of Double Bind have me curious about that book as well!

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

While visiting the author's website, I learned that Bohjalian has a blog named Idyll Banter that can be quite humorous.

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nan said...

I loved Double Bind also. I'm so glad you enjoyed Secrets of Eden. I know I will too! I like a story that can play tricks with your mind.

vtgoat[at]gmail[dot]com

Nan said...

I learned he will be back to a bookstore in my area in April! Woo hoo!

vtgoat[at]gmail[dot]com

Bonnie said...

I found it interesting that you suggested to read this with a book club or find someone to discuss it with or it may drive you crazy! I love books that are so good that you have to find someone to talk about it with!

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Bonnie said...

I found it interesting that Chris is so supportive of reading groups and book clubs. He has an article he wrote about book clubs and I found it wonderful. He also speaks to book clubs about his books, he is too busy promoting Secrets of Eden right now and can't talk with any groups until after March.

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Martha Lawson said...

Well, thanks to that GREAT review - I now have to read this book.. It really has me intriqued. Maybe I'll get lucky and win it if not, I'll have to buy it or get it from the library. But I will definitely be reading it!!!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Miss Eliza said...

Sounds so good!

eliza.lefebvre[at]gmail.com

Teresa said...

Great review, makes me want to read it even more!
mstlee2000 @ hotmail.com

MiscMayzee said...

I like that you said despite the depth of the subject matter the book doesn't bog down.

ashleymaymott(at)aol(dot)com

MiscMayzee said...

I think it is neat that Chris's favorite fictional character is Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

ashleymaymott(at)aol(dot)com

Debbie said...

First, let me just say that I love his books! So talented.
I like that this one is told from four narrators. Reminds me of The Poisonwood Bible.
fourkidsrgreat@gmail.com

Debbie said...

Boy, have I been butchering his name all these years! Ouch:)
fourkidsrgreat@gmail.com

g.g. said...

I like the way it is told from 4 points of view and love a story with a twist.

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

g.g. said...

He will be speaking in my state next Tues about 4 hours from here...tempting but wish he were closer

anjamie4 AT gmail DOT com

Margie said...

I too am a fan of this author. I found it interesting that you said he could handle very controversial, deep topics...yet the reader can turn the pages quickly. It's also interestintg that you don't know who to trust as you read this book.
Good review!
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

He seems to be a devoted family man. He is happiest when he is with his wife and daughter, and his biggest fear is for their health and happiness.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Linda Henderson said...

I thought it was interesting that two of his books had been made into movies.

seriousreader at live dot com

Linda Henderson said...

I found out the author used to write for Readers Digest.

seriousreader at live dot com

Irene said...

A literary thriller with four narrators...this is going to be good! Please count me in. Thank you.

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Irene said...

Besides learning how to pronounce his name correctly, I learned that this book is one of his favorites. Interesting.

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Pricilla said...

I always find your reviews to be detailed but not so much that they give away major plot points.
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

http://twitter.com/BrokenTeepee/status/9294647685
I tweeted
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I learned that he lives in Vermont...my hubby lived in Vermont for 10 years
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Finally got Twitter to work!

http://twitter.com/bookmonstrosity/status/9302283640

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

justpeachy36 said...

justpeachy36@yahoo.com

I loved your review on this one and the cover.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

bison61 said...

interesting that the author presents the story through the voices of four narrators. Each one narrates a different section of the book

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Caroline said...

I like the concept of each character narrating a chapter. It should give you a well rounded look into the story.

design4less@yahoo.com

Amy said...

I was very happy about the opening sentence of your review because I have Double Bind here on my bookshelf but I haven't read it yet. I have enjoyed several of Chris Bohjalian's so I figured Double Bind is probably good and it sounds good but I am so happy to know you liked it very much. Problem is I want to read it this minute now but I have some books I need to read because I'm supposed to review them. Oh well! lol

The other part of your review that really excited me is when you used a character's quote to highlight how captivating and mysterious the plot of "Secrets of Eden" is "...Assume all our stories are suspect". Very intriguing!

Thank you for a wonderful review Karen.

Amy
Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

Amy said...

There is so much going on and so much to read on Chris Bohjalian's website. I found it very interesting that only two time has he started a book and known how it was going to end. That interests me especially because my husband and I have a recurring debate over the issues of whether or not a writer has to know how their book is going to end beforew they start writing their book.

Amy
Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

Misusedinnocence said...

I thought it was interesting that there's a twist at the end. It's a little weird knowing that going in, but cool. :)

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Bethie said...

I love that the book is told in different voices. I find that very interesting.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

Chris has a noose in his attic. It was there when he bought the house and he left it there.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Sandee61 said...

I'm ashamed to say, I've never read any of Chris's books. Now after reading your review and going to his website, I have made a list to take to the librsry with me! Thanks!
I'd like to be entered in the giveaway too. Thank you.

Blessings,
Sandee61

Muzzley56{at]aol[dot]com

Mary said...

I love it that you thanked the author. I've liked all the books I've read by him and look forward to this.

meah56 AT gmail DOT com

Mary said...

I think it's interesting (from his website bio) that he's been a Sunday columnist for Gannett's Burlington Free Press since 1992.

meah56 AT gmail DOT com

Mary said...

I blogged about the giveaway in my sidebar giveaways:
http://bookfan-mary.blogspot.com

Colleen Turner said...

I really liked that you made a point in the review to point out that the book is from various points of view-I tend to gravitate towards these sorts of stories.
Thanks!
candc320@gmail.com

Wendy said...

Sounds like it holds the mystery throughout the book by getting each character's point of view.

Wendy
ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Wendy said...

I like his motto of "Have we learned nothing?"

Wendy
ebeandebe at gmail dot com

rubynreba said...

He does drafts on the computer but does his editing in longhand with a fountain pen.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I like how you said he throws in a double twist at the end.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

ossmcalc said...

It seems quite interesting that there are four different narrators for this story line. I like playing the mind games and think that I will love this book. It sounds like a great thriller. I would like to see how everyone in town is going to deal with Heather's murder when they think that maybe they could have done something to stop it.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I learned that Chris Bohjalian is the author of thirteen books, including his brand new novel, Secrets of Eden and that he graduated from Amherst College.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/9894342992

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Great review! I like the way you pointed out that it would be a good book for a book club discussion. Sometimes knowing if a book is a good fit for discussion is a tough call.

miller4plusmore(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

I learned that his works have been translated into 25 languages. Also, he lives in Vermont. I love Vermont! I used to say I was going to move there when I grew up. Maybe I still will...someday. LOL!

miller4plusmore(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Rebecca O said...

I learned that Chris won the New England Book Award in 2002. bekki1820cb at gmail

Rebecca O said...

I thought your review was great. Not too much was revealed, and leaves me hungering for more. Thanks once again Karen. bekki1820cb at gmail

lag123 said...

I love books with twists and you have made this one sound very intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway. This sounds like a page turner.

lag110@mchsi.com

lag123 said...

I love the story about the noose in his attic.

lag110@mchsi.com

lag123 said...

I tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/9944638683

lag110@mchsi.com

Nancye said...

Great review! This sounds like an interesting book. The style of presenting the story from the point of view of several characters reminds me of "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Piccoult (which I loved!)

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Something interesting about Chris is that he lives in a house built in 1898 that has "clapboard house with fish-scaled woodwork, four bedrooms and three porches" That's cool!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/9944656514

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Sarah E said...

In your review I found it interesting that the novel is written using different narrators, which has the effect of playing tricks on the readers' mind.

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

On the author's website I found it interesting that the author's previous book, Midwives, was a selection of Oprah's Book Club.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

I tweeted:

https://twitter.com/saemmerson/status/9963594204

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Edna said...

Please enter me the interview was interesting.


mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

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mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Edna said...

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mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Jo-Jo said...

I think it is interesting that there are different narrators throughout the story...I love books that are told that way.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

I was pleased to see To Kill a Mockingbird on his list of favorite books.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

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