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