Customer Reviews for

Secrets of Eden

Average Rating 3.5
( 247 )
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5 Star

(68)

4 Star

(78)

3 Star

(56)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(25)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

knocked my socks off! (and kept me up all night)

Chris Bohjalian's novels never let me down, and this is my favorite since Midwives. It's a great read, with characters I cared about and a twisty plot that kept me turning the pages. I couldn't put it down! And the story stayed with me long after I'd finished reading. L...
Chris Bohjalian's novels never let me down, and this is my favorite since Midwives. It's a great read, with characters I cared about and a twisty plot that kept me turning the pages. I couldn't put it down! And the story stayed with me long after I'd finished reading. Lots to talk about. Perfect for my book group!

posted by greedy_reader on January 7, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

HAD potential

The book "Secrets of Eden" is about two murders in a small town in Vermont, a traumatic story of domestic violence. The plot to the story is intriguing, and yet, the author seemed to fall from grace of delivering. The story begins with the pastor's voice, Stephen Drew. ...
The book "Secrets of Eden" is about two murders in a small town in Vermont, a traumatic story of domestic violence. The plot to the story is intriguing, and yet, the author seemed to fall from grace of delivering. The story begins with the pastor's voice, Stephen Drew. The facts from his perspective is so incredibly boring. The next person's view is that of the state's attorney, Catherine Benincasa. There was so much added in from her life that didn't give anything to the story. Throughout much of the novel, I find this. It's what I call filler, or added words to take up space. This is ypically seen in term papers from students that need to make up so many words. I wouldn't have expected it from a published author. Another thing I find really annoying about these chapters are the added characters without any introductions. I found myself looking back to see if I missed something...like a page. The next point of view comes from an author who suffered the same tragedy, Heather Laurent, who heard of the event and came to town to support the orphaned daughter. The last person to tell her tale is the orphaned daughter, Katie Hayward. Chris Bohjalian, the author, presented her character throughout the book as a stereotypical speaking teen, as in, her language "I, like totally this or that". Than I noticed her teen language fade in her chapters. That confused me a bit as to whose tale I was reading. I read to the end and Bohjalian waited until the last sentence to reveal "the big mystery". That would have been great in novel that would have been written with "edge of your seat" suspense, but in this case, I just wanted to know so I could stop reading this book. I read it to the end, because the plot had such great potential, I kept hoping for that magnitude. It just isn't here.

posted by DodieND on March 3, 2010

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  • Posted January 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    knocked my socks off! (and kept me up all night)

    Chris Bohjalian's novels never let me down, and this is my favorite since Midwives. It's a great read, with characters I cared about and a twisty plot that kept me turning the pages. I couldn't put it down! And the story stayed with me long after I'd finished reading. Lots to talk about. Perfect for my book group!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    INTRIGUING!

    This story begins with a murder / suicide. After Alice Hayward is baptized she goes home where her husband, George, in one of his rages, strangles her to death before shooting himself. The murder / suicide stuns the town but not as much as the Reverend, who was having an affair with the late wife and the deceased couple's fifteen year old daughter, Katie. Stephen leaves town, but Vermont Deputy State Attorney Catherine Benincasa has doubts and suspects the Reverend of murder.

    This is a story about spousal abuse and the women who tolerate it. It is also the story of a man having lost his faith and of an orphaned child due to the murder / suicide.

    The mystery begins with the narration of the local pastor, Stephen Drew. His perspective is of honesty and guilt at not having done more to avert the tragedy.

    Then through another narrator's eyes, the local investigator of the crime, Prosecuting Attorney, Catherine Benincasa paints a different picture, which seems to blur the Pastor's telling.

    Third, an aspiring author, Heather Laurent, writing about angels, has her input.

    Fourth, the fifteen year old orphan, Katie Hayward, daughter of the victims tells her view point.

    Domestic abuse and the secrets of a marriage take the reader on an unforgettable, compelling journey!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    There...

    It is rare for me to randomly pick a book and it be worth the time and effort. This book was one of those, a MASSIVE SURPRISE! I had read several of Bohjalian's books--mostly to mediocre enjoyment. I was hesitant to read this one, but once it was in my hands and I started reading, that was that until the last revelatory page was turned! The story centers around a pastor, a writer, and a town. The pastor has baptized a woman doomed to be murdered and is haunted by what he thinks is a pre-event message from her. The writer is obsessed with what's happening in the town--she focuses on angels and the like. The town itself is trying to reel from the murder-suicide, help the orphan cope, and get past its new grizzly recognition. Bohjalian doesn't miss a beat as he tells a truly masterful, original story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    HAD potential

    The book "Secrets of Eden" is about two murders in a small town in Vermont, a traumatic story of domestic violence. The plot to the story is intriguing, and yet, the author seemed to fall from grace of delivering. The story begins with the pastor's voice, Stephen Drew. The facts from his perspective is so incredibly boring. The next person's view is that of the state's attorney, Catherine Benincasa. There was so much added in from her life that didn't give anything to the story. Throughout much of the novel, I find this. It's what I call filler, or added words to take up space. This is ypically seen in term papers from students that need to make up so many words. I wouldn't have expected it from a published author. Another thing I find really annoying about these chapters are the added characters without any introductions. I found myself looking back to see if I missed something...like a page. The next point of view comes from an author who suffered the same tragedy, Heather Laurent, who heard of the event and came to town to support the orphaned daughter. The last person to tell her tale is the orphaned daughter, Katie Hayward. Chris Bohjalian, the author, presented her character throughout the book as a stereotypical speaking teen, as in, her language "I, like totally this or that". Than I noticed her teen language fade in her chapters. That confused me a bit as to whose tale I was reading. I read to the end and Bohjalian waited until the last sentence to reveal "the big mystery". That would have been great in novel that would have been written with "edge of your seat" suspense, but in this case, I just wanted to know so I could stop reading this book. I read it to the end, because the plot had such great potential, I kept hoping for that magnitude. It just isn't here.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2010

    NEW FAVORITE

    I've been devouring all of Chris' books since I fell in love with the DOUBLE BIND and I have to say that this might be my new favorite. I was completely sucked in from the beginning, Stephen Drew is one of the most interesting, fascinating and well-developed characters I have "met" in a long time. I could NOT put this down, and as usual, Chris Bohjalian delivers a great twist-ending!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    excellent thriller

    In Haverill at the Vermont Baptist Church, Reverend Stephen Drew baptizes Alice Hayward. Afterward, Alice goes home only her spouse George in one of his rages strangles her to death before shooting himself. The murder-suicide stuns the townsfolk, but not as much as the Reverend who was having an affair with the late wife and the deceased couple's fifteen year old daughter Katie. Stephen leaves town, but Vermont Deputy State Attorney Catherine Benincasa has doubts about what occurred and suspects the Reverend got away with murder.

    Distraught Stephen meets author Heather Laurent whose parents died tragically like that of Katie when she was fourteen. She wants to help him and Katie adjust as she knows at least the teen will never obtain a closure. However, she, like Catherine, begins to wonder if her new lover Stephen killed the couple or just the husband. She leaves him to help the surviving Hayward.

    Told in the first person in four parts, fans will be hooked throughout. Stephen importunes incredible levels of sympathy from readers who feel his pain in Part I, but that is peeled away in Part II by Catherine (the weakest section) and Part III by Heather until everyone converges with a great finish in Part IV when Katie tells her side of the story. Secrets of Eden is a tremendous character driven conundrum that looks deep at the battered spouse syndrome and its impact on an offspring and to a lesser degree the community that prefers silence from the lambs.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2010

    an amazing addition to his work

    I was looking forward to this book for months and was not surprised--he once again delivers an amazing emotional journey. A riveting read on those long winter nights.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great novel about the horror of domestic violence

    I absolutely love Chris Bohjalian's novels. Secrets of Eden did not disappoint. He is a great writer who understands the human condition and makes the reader empathize with all of his characters. I love that he broke the novel down into four different parts, each part narrated by a different character who had a very different perception on the deaths of a wife and husband. This novel was absolutely fantastic.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    WHO has the real secret?

    I finished this book in the space of two days, with long sittings, mind you. The story pulled me in right away and I was determined to see if I could figure out the mystery, knowing that Chris Bohjalian has been known to throw in an unexpected twist at the end. At one point nearly three-quarters into the story he either intentionally or unintentionally left a piece of foreshadowing that helped me figure it out, though I was not truly sure I was right until the very end.

    Each of Bohjalian's books seem to touch on a tough subject and this is no different. A couple is immersed in domestic abuse and the people around them, as is the reality, may or may not see it until it is too late. Those who did see the violence are riddled with guilt about not preventing both of their deaths from apparent murder/suicide. What has happened to them as a family is portrayed vividly and the young daughter, friends and loved ones left behind to deal with the aftermath is also quite touching and realistic.

    I found the way in which the story was told to be very interesting. The author begins by sharing the thoughts of the local pastor, who has lost a congregant whom he was obviously very attached to. His perspective is of honesty and guilt at having not done something more to avert the tragedy.

    However, just as you let his narrative sink in, the local investigator of the crime begins her opposing narrative. Suddenly, the innocent pastor seems anything but. She calls into question everything you think you learned from his version of the events surrounding the crime.

    Following the investigator is the wholly different narrative of an author who has become involved in the situation because she relates to the crime. Her parents died in a similar fashion and she becomes intwined in the lives of everyone involved. This is where I was a bit frustrated feeling as if the story was wandering a bit, but it did come back together.

    Lastly, the teenaged, orphaned daughter of the slain couple tells things from her point of view. The author does a great job of portraying the voice of a teenager and shares her disappointment and longing to understand why her parents came to the end that they did.

    This is another excellent darkly realistic story by Chris Bohjalian and I definitely recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    JUST OK

    I LOVED Double Bind, which is one of my favorite all-time books (in my top 5 list), because I was totally blown away with the ending and it haunts me still when i think about it. I also loved Skeletons at the Feast which is a wonderful book. So, I couldn't wait to start reading Secrets of Eden. I hate to say this......but it was just OK in my opinion. I thought parts of it were too slow, and, while I was surprised with the ending, it didn't knock my socks off like Double Bind. There were parts in this book that I had to push myself to keep reading as I was getting bored, but I kept going only because I figured the ending would make all the slow parts worthwhile. I gave this book three stars. It was good. It was OK, but I was a little disappointed maybe because Double Bind and Skeletons at the Feast were SO good.....they're tough acts to follow. I recommended reading Secrets of Eden - it's still better than most books out there now - but it didn't completely live up to my expectations.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Bored while reading ...

    I was less that impressed with this book. I knew what the ending was going to be right from the start. I came very close to putting it down and starting a different book ... now I wish I would have.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    ridiculous

    the book was awesome but the price is stupid for the nook. I don't get why it costs more than the printed version.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Secrets of Eden

    Secrets of Eden was not what I expected. It is written from each character's point of view regarding the murder-suicide of a troubled couple after the woman was baptized that same morning. So we have the minister, who question's his faith, the couple's teenage daughter, the state's attorney who believes it was not a suicide and this author and experts on angels who has a month affair with the minister after the fact and also indentifies with the teenager since her parents had died in a similar circumstance many years earlier.

    The novel draws me in as we learn more about the minister and his thoughts, but lost me when it came to Heather (the angel expert) and I wondered why she was a part of this novel. There was a lot of information regarding the personal lives of each of these individuals that I drifted many times trying to get the end. Although, there was a surprise ending (to me, anyway), I don't think it was worth the time getting to it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2010

    not recommended

    I have pushed myself to read at least 100 pages of this book since I paid 10 bucks for the ebook. I just can't get into the plot, it just creeps along and stays horribly boring. I'm very disappointed. :(

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    The characteres were so,so, not particularly interesting.

    I did not enjoy this book ad would not recommend to friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    complex

    This book has an excellent plot. I find myself having to re-read some of the material. The author is complex and while he is an excellent writer, I find at times to much is put in one sentence and I tend to get confused and have to re-read sentences, I do want to finish the book but am getting discouraged with the writing style.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2010

    What a bore

    I've plowed through it but boy is this a snooze. Each of the characters is simply odious and there is no conceivable way to give a damn who killed either of the victims. The female characters are each highly distasteful, one more insipid than the next. One can't help but wonder if the author is working through something.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    Not Eden

    Secrets of Eden helped break up the weekend BUT it is not a good book for a snowy/rainy weekend from which you wish to escape.

    The main characters need to be more developed. Excerpts from a character's book really do not belong in this novel. It was almost like she didn't know how to end each chapter, so she threw in an excerpt from this ficticious book the character had written. Why?

    Granted, this author is new to the literary world & will write many interesting novels, but for now I suggest you look elsewhere if you are searching for a page turner; this definitely wasn't one.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    Another amazing book by Bohjalian

    I can barely describe how much I enjoyed this book. As always I feel I know Bohjalian characters as friends. It is a mystery, but one with much more heart than most mysteries. The story development as told by each of the main characters is intriguing. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Another Winner By Chris Bohjalian!

    After reading The Double Bind and Skeletons at the Feast I went back and read all the Bohjalian books I could find. Each book is so different then the last unlike some authors who just seem to repeat the same storyline.
    The new Book; Secrets of Eden seems predictable in some places but as you get further into the story you realize you were surprised after all. This is another fantastic read by a really fantastic writer. I would recommend it highly to anyone! It is especially great for book clubs with guided reading questions provided. If you can only chose one book to read this winter, choose this one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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