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Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of Eden
By Chris Bohjalian
Completed February 21, 2010

A trademark Chris Bohjalian novel is one of suspense, engaging characters and a plot twist that few could anticipate. This magic formula is once again employed in Bohjalian’s latest book, Secrets of Eden.

Secrets of Eden tells the tragic story of Alice Hayward – an abused wife who was killed by her husband during a fit of rage. We see Alice’s story through the eyes of four narrators – her preacher and former lover, Stephen; the district attorney, Catherine; an angel afficianado, Heather and Alice’s daughter, Katie. This quartet of narrators all present different sides to Alice’s murder and the subsequent suicide of her husband.

As Bohjalian takes you through each person’s journey, he adds layer upon layer of complexity to the story. For instance, Stephen’s section shows a man tormented by the death of his former lover. His section alludes to allegations that maybe Stephen was responsible for Alice’s husband’s death. Then, Catherine’s section reveals how Stephen could be a prime suspect. By the time you get through Heather and Katie’s sections, you are not sure where the good reverand stands. Then, in the end, Bohjalian comes in with a plot twist that many readers do not see coming. The end result – a story that keeps you at the edge of your seat.

The abuse of Alice Hayward was heart-wrenching. Bohjalian shows every aspect of an abusive relationship – from the punches to the belittlement. Physically, emotionally and mentally abused, Alice endured it all – while hiding it from her neighbors. This is a hard subject matter to read but an important one, and I am glad that Bohjalian tackled it in Secrets of Eden.

Fan of Chris Bohjalian should not be disappointed with this book. It’s classic Chris Bohjalian – a great story, difficult subject matter and memorable characters. ( )

Tags: 2010 books i've read
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