Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Secrets of Eden

by Chris Bohjalian
Fiction (2010)

My Synopsis

After her baptism by Reverend Stephen Drew, Alice Hayward goes home and is killed by her abusive husband, who then kills himself. Heather Laurent, a well known author of books about angels, befriends Alice's 15-year-old daughter Katie, since she experienced her own parents' murder-suicide. Questions around the murder-suicide arise when certain secrets are exposed.

My Thoughts

Aghhh! I couldn't decide whether to give this a 3 (it was okay) or a 4 (I enjoyed it). I switched back and forth between the two ratings while reading. At times I enjoyed the writing and characters and storyline, and at other times I was bored and felt like not enough was happening. I did feel empathy towards Heather Laurent and enjoyed the depth of emotion when she discussed her childhood, but when she talked about angels (which was often), I thought she was a nut! Also, her appearance after the murders was so random. Hi, you don't know me, but I'm a famous author and I want to be your friend.

The teenager, Katie, was strange, and I didn't find the things she said to be realistic, which is surprising considering Bohjalian got input for the book from his own teenage daughter.

My favorite character was Catherine, the state prosecutor, and my least favorite was Stephen Drew, the reverend.

The storyline was interesting for the most part, with its relationship twists and possible scenarios of "who dunnit," but I didn't love it like others did. Which isn't surprising considering the only popular books I've loved that everyone else raved about are The Help and The Book Thief. Guess I'm a pretty tough

Interesting tidbit and wondering how it may have affected my review... A friend (not a close friend, but she was in our circle and lived only a block away) was killed a few years ago by her husband after finding out she was going to divorce him and that she was interested in another man. He then killed himself. Their two boys (10 and 12) were upstairs when it happened, and one of them heard the gunshot and found them both dead.

Do I Recommend?

Hard to say. If you are a Bohjalian fan, I'm sure you've already read it or plan to - and you should - but I won't recommend this to anyone I know.



My Rating

3/5 (It was okay)

Other reviews

S. Krishna's Books
Thoughts of Joy (This blogger agreed with me)
Girls With Books


Diane said...

Hi Lynne,

I read this one when it was first released as I am a huge Bohjalian fan. I rated this one 4/5, but was not fond of the angel-lady character.

Jenners said...

Sounds like it was more of a 3 book in the end.

And how awful to be so close to something that horrifying.

Nise' said...

I will probably pass on this one.

Gwen said...

Oh no! I was so hoping that you would like it. The angel lady was weird, I agree with you there.

I can really see how the reader's own experiences would color how they feel about the book. Chances are, if abuse or an affair has touched one's life in any way, one is going to have a really strong opinion about it.

For me, the end was a surprise. I am usually pretty good at guessing, but I just didn't see it. Again, this might be because of my own life experiences.

Janet Ruth said...

Very interesting review, not sure if I want to read it either.

I have an award for you here

Aths said...

Talk about angels is not going to be something I would enjoy either. I don't know how I would like this book either, but I'll give it a try!

Lynne said...

Gwen: I didn't guess the ending either; wasn't it kind of weird how the last sentence told everything and it just ended like that? I was like, "whaaaaat?!"

Lynne said...

Diane: I heard Midwives was his best. I suppose I would try that. His writing appealed to me, but the story was just 'eh'. And the angel-lady...I don't even know what to think about her.

Aths: You should read it. I'm a tough critic.


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