Book Review: Secrets of Eden – Chris Bohjalian

Title: Secrets of Eden: A Novel
Author: Chris Bohjalian
ISBN: 9780307394972
Pages: 384
Release Date: 2/2/2010
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
Genre: Mystery, Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

When Alice and George Hayward are found dead in their home in Vermont, the people of the town they lived in are saddened and shocked.  They knew that George had been abusing Alice physically for some time – in fact, they were separated, but recently had gotten back together – but no one thought it would come to this.  On first appearances, it appears to be a murder-suicide – George strangled Alice and then shot himself.  Upon closer examination, though, details surface that make the police question their initial interpretation of events.  Told through four different narrators, Secrets of Eden is the story of Alice and George and the effect their deaths had.

Review:

I really enjoyed Chris Bohjalian’s The Double Bind, though I haven’t picked up any of his other books.  However, I thought Secrets of Eden sounded really fascinating, especially with the mystery kick I’ve been on lately.  Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down – I had to know the outcome of this deftly written novel.

Secrets of Eden has four well-established and developed narrators.  Each time I saw the voice of the novel would be changing, I was disappointed – usually, in novels with multiple narrators, one voice is much more interesting than the others.  However, Bohjalian manages to make each narrator unique and compelling.  They each have their own story, their own version of events, and with each telling, the reader gleans new details about the murders.  However, you also can’t completely trust any of these characters – they all have their own agendas when discussing the deaths and the aftermath.  As a result, the reader is scrambling to figure out which of these narrators is unreliable, and what each of their goals are.

I also appreciated how Bohjalian gave the readers subtle clues and hints as to what happened that are interspersed through the novel.  Yes, the reader does find out the truth at the end, but it’s fun to take these details as they are delivered and try to piece together what happened.  It gives the novel a sense of adventure and makes it very difficult to put down.

I really enjoyed Secrets of Eden; I expected it to be a heavy, slow novel, but instead it was easy to read and utterly engrossing.  This is a book you’ll want to read in one sitting, so don’t pick it up unless you have some time!

Comments

  1. I have this book on the shelf so I skipped to your final paragraph. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  2. I have this book on the shelf so I skipped to your final paragraph. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  3. Wow! I’ve only read Midwives by Bohjalian, but after reading your review of this newest book I think I’m going to have to add another Bohjalian book to my shelf. Sounds so interesting – like the kind of book to read over the summer!! Great review, Swapna!

  4. Wow! I’ve only read Midwives by Bohjalian, but after reading your review of this newest book I think I’m going to have to add another Bohjalian book to my shelf. Sounds so interesting – like the kind of book to read over the summer!! Great review, Swapna!

  5. This one sounds like my style! Not only is there a mystery to solve, but a mystery also with the narrators (and who doesn’t love an unreliable narrator?). I never would have imagined by the cover that this was a mystery novel either, which should teach me a lesson.

  6. This one sounds like my style! Not only is there a mystery to solve, but a mystery also with the narrators (and who doesn’t love an unreliable narrator?). I never would have imagined by the cover that this was a mystery novel either, which should teach me a lesson.

  7. Thanks for sharing! I have a copy of this I keep meaning to pick up next, but somehow it keeps getting pushed back… time to move it forward again, it seems!

  8. Thanks for sharing! I have a copy of this I keep meaning to pick up next, but somehow it keeps getting pushed back… time to move it forward again, it seems!

  9. I really enjoyed your review, and now I simply must add this book to my list. Thanks!

  10. I really enjoyed your review, and now I simply must add this book to my list. Thanks!

  11. His Skeletons at the Feast book is excellent. I highly recommend it. Thanks for the blog – its on my list on google reader so I check it often. Keep up the book recommendations!

  12. His Skeletons at the Feast book is excellent. I highly recommend it. Thanks for the blog – its on my list on google reader so I check it often. Keep up the book recommendations!

  13. I’ve been dying to get hold of this book! It sounds fantastic!

  14. I’ve been dying to get hold of this book! It sounds fantastic!

  15. I have this waiting on my e reader….it does sound interesting for sure

  16. I have this waiting on my e reader….it does sound interesting for sure

  17. Bohjalian is hit and miss for me. I loved Midwives but thought The Double Bind was mediocre at best. I’ll have to check this one out.

  18. Bohjalian is hit and miss for me. I loved Midwives but thought The Double Bind was mediocre at best. I’ll have to check this one out.

  19. four narrators in a book? I don’t think I’ve read such a book earlier. Nicely penned review.

  20. four narrators in a book? I don’t think I’ve read such a book earlier. Nicely penned review.

  21. I’ve read all of Bojalian’s books, and loved every one of them! They all have such different themes, but his writing is always engrossing. Midwives is still my favorite, but I loved Trans-sister Radio too. I’ll put this one on my TBR list for sure!

  22. I’ve read all of Bojalian’s books, and loved every one of them! They all have such different themes, but his writing is always engrossing. Midwives is still my favorite, but I loved Trans-sister Radio too. I’ll put this one on my TBR list for sure!

  23. I’ve only ever read his Skeletons at the Feast, which was one of my top reads last year. I have this and have been putting it off because I thought it was going to be another heavy book, best read when I wasn’t busy. Now that I see it’s more like a mystery, I’ll get to it sooner than later.

  24. I’ve only ever read his Skeletons at the Feast, which was one of my top reads last year. I have this and have been putting it off because I thought it was going to be another heavy book, best read when I wasn’t busy. Now that I see it’s more like a mystery, I’ll get to it sooner than later.

  25. Just went on my wish list.

    JHS
    Colloquium

  26. Just went on my wish list.

    JHS
    Colloquium

  27. I’m hearing nothing but good things about this one. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.

  28. I’m hearing nothing but good things about this one. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.

  29. I listened to the audio of this book and it was very well done. I enjoyed this one as well. Now I just need to finally review it…

  30. I listened to the audio of this book and it was very well done. I enjoyed this one as well. Now I just need to finally review it…

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