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Secrets of Eden
     

Secrets of Eden

3.6 248
by Chris Bohjalian
 

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NOW A LIFETIME TV MOVIE STARRING JOHN STAMOS

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

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Secrets of Eden 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 248 reviews.
greedy_reader More than 1 year ago
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!
ChiliHead1987 More than 1 year ago
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.
angeleyesAS More than 1 year ago
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!
TorVM More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
lilpiggie More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Booklover87 More than 1 year ago
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.
neclem1935 More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy this book ad would not recommend to friends.
tabOH More than 1 year ago
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.
Michigan-Fan More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
bettymh More than 1 year ago
It has become a tradition for me to buy Chris Bohjalian's latest book as soon as it's available, read late into the night, and finish it the next day. This was the case with Secrets of Eden which had me hooked from the first few pages. Days later, I'm still completely under its spell, thinking about the characters I feel I came to know and pondering the terrible choices some of them had to face. Secrets of Eden will be on my mind for a long time. I'm equally haunted by the deeply tragic story in this novel, the whole specter of domestic abuse that it reflects, and the profound truth that, in human affairs, things are complex and never quite what they seem. I love the way the story is conveyed through four narrators, thus underscoring the truth that we do so live each in our own reality and, as character Stephen Drew (the small town pastor) says, "all of our stories are suspect." Secrets of Eden is mesmerizing. As the story unfolds, you enter the world of each of the characters and are drawn deep into the tragic event and all it means. And you will be thinking about the sad reality of domestic abuse for a long time. Kudos to Chris Bohjalian for raising our awareness about such an important problem by bringing it to life in this compelling way. What a great story-teller and masterful writer.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
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BrandyGirl More than 1 year ago
I am halfway done with this book. It is very good but I only gave it four stars because I enjoyed other books by this author more than this one. If you like his stories, you will enjoy this.
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Bookworm59LS More than 1 year ago
The only reason I got this book is because I saw the LMN movie with John Stamos as Pastor Drew. I'd always believed that the books are so much better than the movie. There is much more detail here than what was in the movie but I don't think it really added value to the story overall. I'm sort of disappointed so will definitely be wary of another book by Bohjalian.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and did not want to put it down. I really liked how the writer told the story from 4 different perspectives, as it was neat to see how each person felt about the tragedy that took place. The twist was somewhat predictable but it did not take away from the story, for me at least. I will definitely read other works from this author. There was also a Lifetime movie made based on this book and I definitely want to see it now. John Stamos plays the Reverend in it, which i have a hard time picturing, but im sure will be good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago