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One Foot in Eden

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  2,205 ratings  ·  287 reviews
Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing. Simply, almost elementally told through the voices of the sheriff, a local farmer, his beautiful wife, their son, and the sheriff's deputy,
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 3rd 2004 by Picador (first published 2002)
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Best Books Set in Appalachia
47th out of 344 books — 534 voters
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Appalachian Fiction
24th out of 125 books — 184 voters


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Community Reviews

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Mike
One Foot in Eden: A Child May Ask

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash was chosen by members of On the Southern Literary Trail as a group read for January, 2015. Special thanks to Diane Barnes, Co-Moderator "Miss Scarlett", On the Southern Literary Trail.

January 16, 2015

A child may ask, 'What is the world's story about?' And a grown man or woman may wonder, 'What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we're at it, what's the story about?'

I believe that there is one story in the world, and onl
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karen
at first, i was afraid i wouldnt like this book - the first few pages were flawed - flawed i say!! it made me sad because i loved serena so much, and i was scared that this one wouldnt live up to that standard. but then it got much better, although i have to get out of this region, because the last few books i have read have taken place in the same general area, and they are blurring a little in my mind. i will definitely read more from him, after i cleanse the palate of my brain.
Connie
Ron Rash's debut novel was so engaging that I could not put it down, and read it in one evening. Although it involves a murder in 1950s Appalachian South Carolina, it is not a typical crime story. A few bad decisions by basically good people have a domino effect leading to a series of tragic events.

Holland Winchester's mother told Sheriff Will Alexander that her son has disappeared. She heard gunshots and she was sure that Billy Holcombe murdered her son, but no body was found. The book is narra
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Dem
One Foot in Eden a novel by Ron Rash is a wonderful and hauntingly beautiful novel. A classic tale of passion and tragedy but so well written that it delivers on every sentence. This is the type of book I love, a book that can bring its story, characters and setting to life.

Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows all that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the Sherriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Quick read, read it in one evening. I kept feeling like I had read it before, but I can't figure out if I have (although I've been tracking my reading since before it was published) or if it is similar in theme and structure to a novel I read by Wiley Cash last year (Appalachian farming, multiple narrators, an important river). It feels familiar, anyway. Maybe part of that is the setting, just a few counties over in Oconee County, in an area that was covered up by the creation of Lake Jocassee. ...more
Jenny
One of the most well-crafted books I've read in ages. Gripping plot, well-drawn characters, lyrical prose. When a poet starts writing fiction, you just have to stand back and watch.
jo
you know, i'm on a tear. after reading A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel i decided i'd spend the rest of my life reading books set in appalachia. i've taken many life decisions before and i haven't kept a single one, so draw your conclusion. still, this is heady stuff. both the Wiley Cash book and this, ron rash's first novel, have a way with language that is simply intoxicating. partly it's the dialect. there are sentences in this books, complete paragraphs really, that are pure gold. mostly ...more
Shaun
My third Rash novel (though his debut), I'm starting to see a real pattern in Rash's storytelling. In addition to falling in the Southern Gothic genre with all that represents, nature is also a common theme in his books, to the point that it almost becomes another character.

Told in multiple first person points of view, "One Foot in Eden" is a murder mystery of sorts that's not so much a who-done-it as a how-done-it and why-done-it. With each new point of view a different layer of the story is re
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Diane Barnes
Well, besides being able to create beautiful prose in a very authentic language spoken by country people, Ron Rash also knows how to tell a story. I could have been one of those reviewers who read the book in one night, if my eyes and body had cooperated with me. Alas, it took me longer, but I did finish in a marathon read this afternoon. Suspense, character development, old words recognized and appreciated by this reader, multiple narrators; all went to make this an incredible read. This was Ra ...more
Josh
"I was learning that leaving a place wasn’t as easy as packing up and getting out. You carried part of it with you whether you wanted to or not."

That pretty much sums up all the story components found in this one--- whether that be directed at the places, people, circumstances, loves, hates, family ties, or occupations. Rash can draw it all to one little quote, hidden in one little paragraph, on one obscure page, but I think that's where he was guiding me all along. He blends Appalachian Firef
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Erin
I read this book in one sitting, over 5 hours, cover to cover. It was so amazing. I'm now a full-on Ron Rash fan. His language, his sense of place, his ability to paint a complete picture in relatively few words of a town, its people, its time, are absolutely wonderful. I had no idea what I was missing. A beautiful Southern writer with a pared down, clear voice.

The book alternates from 5 points of view around a murder in a small South Carolina town in the 50s: the sheriff, the wife of a happily
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Nick
For the last 50 pages alone, this book should probably get 5 stars. The middle narrative, still strong, just didn't resonate as much as the rest of the novel.
Great book. Like the jacket will tell you, equal parts vintage crime novel with southern gothic fiction thrown in for good measure. I wanted to think Ron Rash as Cormac McCarthy-lite, but that would be inaccurate. His writing is more pensive, plaintive. His writing is thoughtful, clear as can be, like a natural oral story teller.


Recommended
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Laura
I would think if you were a southern author and read this book you would be jealous. Rash's debut novel is a wonderful read. It's eerie, it's suspenseful, and it's southern gothic at its best. I loved how he broke the story into so many points of view. Rash is a fantastic writer that does "southern lit" justice! I like how in this book and in Serena he uses the land to show the hardships the Carolina people are exposed to. He has a way with story telling.
Kirk Smith
A murderous tale rendered beautifully. Multiple points of view and the author's slow unveiling of details really add to the suspense.-- I seldom even think of the books I am reading when I am at my job, it generally takes all of my focus and attention. This book however had me not just thinking of it, but in fact I was so intrigued to learn the rest of the story that I found myself plotting plausible reasons to leave work midafternoon to be back home reading again. Outstanding storytelling by R ...more
Carol
A sad, but very good crime novel set in 1950's rural North Carolina. The 1st 'crime' instigated by an old wise woman (witch?) leads to the 2nd 'crime' told through the voices of five characters in this short 200 page novel.

Great book! Looking forward to reading Ron Rash's Serena.

Caroline Picard
Last Christmas I went down south, for the first time to South Carolina. There I stayed with a wonderful couple of artists who have, as artist so often do, carved out a remarkable life in the Greenville. Greenville is a small city with a burgeoning and quaint downtown, what was once dilapidated and run down with the sleepy charm of Southern history. Places like these benefit from the cyclical spread of rejuvenation-gentrification, if only because the historical buildings are preserved against any ...more
Larry Bassett
This is Ron Rash’s debut novel published in 2002. As far as stories go, it is my least favorite of the several I have read. But I think I will probably read everything by Rash eventually. I am hooked. But this book only gets 3½ stars from me. The religious overtone and nineteen year old Amy seducing the neighbor war hero to get pregnant when her husband is sterile are parts of the book that are a bit much for me to take easily without penalty. But there are plenty of good sentences and pages and ...more
Ipsith
Is it possible to get away with murder? Ron Rash's debut novel, One Foot in Eden, asks this question in a haunting literary mystery set deep in the Appalachian Mountains. When returned war-hero and local rabble-rouser Holland Winchester shows up missing, signs of foul play point to his quiet neighbor. Yet the sheriff can uncover neither the body nor the facts needed to seal the case.

One Foot in Eden surpasses the traditional "whodunit" construction and delves into the much richer, "Why?" Layer b
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Rose
I've discovered a favorite new author in Ron Rash & I'm ever so pleased. I loved this book as much as the other 2 I read by him. He has such a lovely way with words it came as no surprise to find out he has a couple of published poetry books which I will eventually get to after I've devoured all his novels. This book was short, I breezed through it in a couple of days, busy days at that, but I couldn't stay away from it & thus I finished it sooner than I should have. The language of the ...more
Barksdale Penick
I loved this book. It is highly structured, but that doesn't in any way impinge on the narrative flow. The tale is in part a crime novel, although not a whodunit. And in part a memoir of a disappeared part of America , although perhaps the Appalachian setting is a tiny bit overdone, such as the old lady in the woods who is rumored to be a witch and can cure ailments with roots and berries and has second sight, or the tobacco farmers hanging until the valley is flooded by a new dam. But each of t ...more
Shelley
This is the best novel I read in 2011, and maybe even in 2010. I waded through a lot of pyrite to get to this gem, and it was well worth it. The Los Angeles Times blurb on my copy's front cover presents a perfect glimpse of this novel: "Equal parts vintage crime novel and Southern Gothic, full of aching ambivalence and hard compromises, and rounded off by bad faith and bad choices, One Foot in Eden is a veritable garden of earthly disquiet." Well said!



From the suspenseful unfolding of the plot,
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Donna
Oh my goodness! I could NOT put this book down. Well, I had to go to sleep, but picked it right up this morning. I have always been fascinated by books set in the South and particularly Appalachia. This one is set in the Carolina mountains in the early 1950's. The Carolina Power company is about to flood the farmland and small town making the homes there a lake. The people living there are faced with what will come soon, but in the meantime, their lives continue to tangle.

I love the way the aut
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William
Another fine book by Ron Rash. This is my third and none have been a disappointment. Like many of the Southern novels I've been reading lately, the landscape plays a critical role in the story and themes. It is told in five sections, each devoted to a different narrator with a different perspective on the events occurring. Each of these characters is given a sympathetic and often tragic portrayal, but this is not a warm and cuddly tale; it is a tale of murder, guilt, and coming to terms with the ...more
Jayne Bowers
Marvelous! If not for one of my sister bibliophiles in my book club, I might never have discovered this book about families, love, secrets, and change, both personal and societal. Rash's use of language, especially in describing scenes, is poetic at times, and I read certain passages to my husband, a nature enthusiast. Among other things, a couple of other pluses to the book are character descriptions and the authentic dialogue between them.
Heather Modzelewski
Sep 16, 2007 Heather Modzelewski rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Southern Culturists
Ron Rash is a poet. His fiction is a tapestry of poems, woven together to tell the thread of a story. With "One Foot in Eden," he captures a place that no longer exists and re-creates it, one personality, one accent, one description at a time - and weaves a murder mystery in to keep you on your toes.
Linda
What a treasure this turned out to be. In just 200 short pages, Mr. Rash gives us proof that less is sometimes more. This is a novel that lured me to my big comfy couch when I should have been doing other things. Written in the narrative of each character as they fit into the story is in my view brilliant. The core of who they are touched me greatly. Amy wants a child. It's the one thing her husband Billy can't give her. Amy visits the Widow Glendower the healer and asks for a remedy for Billy. ...more
Bill
I was so upset with one of the well-drawn characters that I almost stopped reading it. How could she take it upon herself to elicit sex from a neighbor without telling her husband first, even if her motives were honorable! It pushed some of my buttons: adultery, open communication, respect. OK, her marriage was falling apart and a child she thought might save it. OK, a wise woman down the valley suggested it after other interventions failed. OK, she was only 19 and doing the best she knew how. O ...more
Crystal
Many Ron Rash readers rave about his work. I tried a few years back to read some of his short stories and I guess I just started reading the wrong one for me. I didn't understand the hype. But now, I do. Several of my friends from the Blue Ridge Writing Project recommended this and I'm very glad to join them in their admiration of the authorship of Ron Rash. While I don't find in his writing what some folks describe as exquisite prose, I do find strong, simplex stories with very complex underton ...more
Jodi
Mar 17, 2011 Jodi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
The was a well-written book and even though it was about a murder case, I enjoyed reading about it from different points of view. First, we meet the sheriff who is trying to solve the murder of Holland, the town trouble-maker. He has suspicions but cannot find proof. Next, we meet the wife who cares for her husband but he cannot give her the one thing she wants most............a baby. The book takes place in the 1950s so the options available for infertility weren't available and the couple is a ...more
Sharon
I picked up this book because I like Appalachian literature. Ron Rash, the author, teaches Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University which is not far from my hometown of Asheville, NC. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read a novel written by a "local boy."

The plot is woven around the murder of a tough-talking, fighting, veteran of the Korean war. The story is told from the perspective of five individuals who had reason to come in contact with the man. The narrative is brilliantly e
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Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other St ...more
More about Ron Rash...
Serena The Cove Saints at the River Burning Bright: Stories The World Made Straight

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“But nothing is solid and permanent. Our lives are raised on the shakiest foundations. You don't need to read history books to know that. You only have to know the history of your own life.” 35 likes
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