Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books (February 2, 2010)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
"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.
I read Bohjalian's Midwives years ago, after Oprah's recommendation. I really enjoyed the book and always meant to read another of his books, but just never did. When I was searching for books to load on to my eReader for Claire's surgery this one jumped out at me. Maybe I needed something a little faster paced, maybe nothing would have worked well for me then, but I could have easily set this one aside without finishing it.
Usually I really like books told from different perspectives, but I didn't like how this one was handled. Each part of the book was told by a different character. However, the events didn't really overlap. So, instead of seeing the same events through four different perspectives, each character told a slightly different part of the story. This felt disjointed to me and I didn't really ever feel like I got to know any of the characters well.
The other part of the story that didn't work for me was the foreshadowing. I don't have a problem with an author building up to future events, but the way it was done here was very heavy handed. There were lots of references like "if only I'd said something then, things could have been different." I felt like the author thought we wouldn't get the references if they weren't explicitly pointed out. The ending was predictable too, but by that point, I didn't really care either way.
Secrets of Eden felt like it was capitalizing on the formula of Midwives, and I hope his other books show a bit more diversity. 2.5 stars.