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Secrets of Eden

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3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  9,613 ratings  ·  1,599 reviews
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 the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryp
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Paperback, Large Print, 512 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Random House Large Print (first published 2010)
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Allison Malter Oh wow. I just finished this book. It's very compelling and will grab you from the very beginning. Very interesting how he rotates the narrators and…moreOh wow. I just finished this book. It's very compelling and will grab you from the very beginning. Very interesting how he rotates the narrators and builds on the story. Definitely recommend it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Becca
Dear Mr. Bohjalian,

Tell me, what happened to the man who skillfully channeled 360 degrees of the female soul in "Midwives"? Where might the author be who so cleverly knit elements of Gatsby in with a modern story in "The Double Bind"? What has become of the writer who bravely took on the tired topic of WWII and crafted a gorgeous story in "Skeletons at the Feast"?

Because certainly - the same fellow did not write this dimestore paperback drivel? We know it happens from time to time. A great wri
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Wanda
Here is the plot of this book: The victim of domestic violence and her husband are found dead in a small town in Vermont, apparently a murder suicide. The woman had been having an affair with the pastor of her church. The pastor feels guilty that he did not intervene more strongly and he takes off with a best-selling author of a book about angels. We don’t know why he has an affair with her, as she is a kook who is so into angels that she can barely utter dialogue without bringing them into a co ...more
☮Karen
Not my favorite Bohjalian book, but pretty good nonetheless. A murder suicide (or was it 2 murders?) has occurred in a small Vermont town, and we are told about the domestic abuse situation and its aftermath from four different points of view. The first is Stephen, the local pastor to the couple and their daughter; next is the D.A.; then an author of angel books whose parents also died in a murder/suicide and who decides to go hang around the pastor, the daughter, and the mortician (just weird); ...more
Barbara
Feb 08, 2012 Barbara rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: CHRIS BOHJALIAN!
I have been an avid follower of Chris Bohjalian's writing for a long time. It pains me to say that this novel was a disappointment to me. My first introduction to this author was "Skeletons at the Feast", which so impressed me that I followed it with many more of his boooks. This could not compare with that first book, or others. The story weaves around the apparent murder/ suicide in a small town in Vermont. It is a tale of wife battering and alcoholism and the effects of these abuses on famil ...more
Connie
This was my first Chris Bohjalian book and I am pleased with his easy reading style. This book follows the murder/suicide of a couple in Vermont. Or was it? All is not how it seems in this household or with the deaths themselves. The story unfolds through the narratives of 4 different characters. I loved three of them, the pastor who questions his spiritual path after the deaths and perhaps knows more than he lets on....the tough DA who has seen too many of these cases to take them at face valu ...more
B the BookAddict

I have read other Chris Bohjailian books and really enjoyed them. Having said that, this is not the case here. This novel is passable but not up to this usual standard.

Murder/suicide of Alice and George Hayward. Told in four separate parts by four main characters. Stephen Drew who is Alice's pastor, then Catherine Benincasa, the prosecutor overseeing the investigation, followed by Heather Laurent, an author who sees angels and whose parents died in the same manner and lastly Katie Hayward – the
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Jackie
Jul 20, 2009 Jackie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jackie by: Chris and Kira
I had the privilege of getting to read a very early, pre-final-edit manuscript of this book, and I am SO glad, because now I can be among the first to tell everyone how fabulous it is! Once again, Bohjalian creates big, believable drama in a small town Vermont setting. This time it involves a preacher who is losing his faith, two deaths and plenty of mystery of the "whodoneit" variety. It is interesting to read a book where two dead people are very much central characters and seeing the plot blo ...more
Steve Lindahl
I listened to the audio version of Chris Bohjalian's novel Secrets of Eden and want to recommend it highly. There are multiple readers who all do an excellent job. It's perfect for a long commute, although I found myself driving an extra block or two a couple of times when I couldn't stop listening.

Many writing instructors, especially those who are teaching beginning courses, tell writers to show rather than tell. It's a bit of advice that has always irritated me, because it simplifies the proce
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Cheri
"The Buffalo Soldier" was the first of Bohjalian's books I've read, which was followed by "Midwives" and "Double Bind"... and I feel as though I am on a slow downward spiral with Chris Bohjalian's books, although "Secrets of Eden" is, in parts, well written, it is equally torturous to read in others.

The character of the minister starts out with a somewhat weary-of-his-pathetic-excuse-for-parishioners recounting of the typical Sunday whinings mixed with more heartwarming stories told by recipien
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RNOCEAN
Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won’t disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew’s Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel’s first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, ...more
Suze
"Secrets of Eden," my third Chris Bohjalian book, reinforced why I'm such a fan of this author. Beginning with the deaths of Alice and George Hayward in an apparent murder-suicide, the story devolves into a mystery when it becomes apparent that George died by a hand other than his own.



Told from the perspectives of four characters who are very different from one another, the book reveals interesting personality traits of each, yet keeps each character enigmatic enough that I was pondering some o
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Lydia Presley
I have a love/hate relationship with Chris Bohjalian and this book emphasized it even more. It takes forever for me to get myself fully involved in his books.. but I do it. Why? Because the final chapters of the book will punch me in the gut and leave me shaking my head in awe. That's what keeps me reading.

From Double Bind to Midwives and now to Secrets of Eden, he hasn't disappointed me. Books that, if I would have only read the first half, I would have given 1-2 stars of rating get 4-5 stars f
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Kirsten
I liked some things about this book, but overall I didn't care for it.

In a small town in Vermont, an apparent murder/suicide takes place. It seems George Hayward has murdered his wife (whom he was abusing) and then committed suicide...or IS this what happened??

Each section of the story is narrated by a different person: the town pastor, who is struggling with his faith, a woman who writes books about angels (whose own parents killed themselves in a murder/suicide), law enforcement, the only chi
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Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Mark Bramhall, Susan Denaker, Rebecca Lowman and Kathe Mazur.

When Alice and George Hayward die in a murder/suicide, Reverend Stephen Drew suffers a crisis of faith. He is tormented by his inability to stop the tragedy, and tortured by a sense of guilt. In despair he leaves the small Vermont town and seeks consolation with a wildly successful new-age author of “angel” books. But the medical director’s autopsy findings aren’t consistent with suicide and the state prosecutor
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Suzka
Feb 18, 2011 Suzka rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzka by: library reading group
This was the February selection for OLBC, and I read it because I'm committed to the OLBC.

What I enjoyed:

* The story was told from the point of view of four different characters, weaving perceptions into an interesting braid for the reader. Nice touch.
* The setting (small rural northern New England town) was fun, especially as it felt like the author was translating this specific flavor of Small Town (which is where I live) for the rest of the world.

What I didn't so much enjoy:

* The ending was o
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Diane Chamberlain
I loved the different points of view and what was revealed by each. This approach will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it worked for me. I thought Bohjalian did a great job with the different voices. I knew "who-dunnit" early on, either because I read too much or write with a similar structure myself, but that didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book at all.
Kirk Smith
This book did not set well with me from the very start. Most of the story revolves around a philandering minister who had been carrying on an affair with a married lady from his congregation. The smug, cold, and entirely justified attitude of the minister just heightened my disgust. I can stomach the Elmer Gantry type stories where there is more of an imminent train wreck coming and the charismatic seducer is later brought back down to earth. In fact I often love those kinds of stories because ...more
Elevate Difference
Like Midwives and The Double Bind, Chris Bohjalian's newest suspense novel, Secrets of Eden, was (no exaggeration) nearly impossible for me to put down.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of a small town in rural Vermont is the horrific murder-suicide of a local couple. Businessman George Hayward, who has a history of abusing his wife Alice, murders her while their teenage daughter, Katie, is out at a concert, and then turns the gun on himself. Holding the family—and the town—together immediately
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Desiree reilly
5.0 out of 5 stars SECERTS OF EDEN, July 23, 2012
By
desi reilly (ozark mo) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secrets of Eden: A Novel (Paperback)
wow this book is great. I could not get the book done quick enough.Here you got the country folks and the people all now each
other and usually now what goes on in the home form word of mouth or groups they are in.What happen in town stay in town or they
say it will you have a couple who has a daughter is only a high school kid.the daughter is dys
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Debbie
This book was pretty good. I like the author's talent for speaking in the voices of the characters and really bringing them to life. I found a lot of quotables which in my opinion is a testiment to the book itself as well as the author's good work. However, great quotes does not a good book make, therefore I had to hold back that fourth star.
This book is supposed to be a murder, a mystery, the investigation, a veritable "who done it" and the view points of all those involved as they recount the
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Steven
Feb 26, 2010 Steven rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery readers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rose
I just have to quote another reader who said it perfectly!


"Tell me, what happened to the man who skillfully channeled 360 degrees of the female soul in "Midwives"? Where might the author be who so cleverly knit elements of Gatsby in with a modern story in "The Double Bind"? What has become of the writer who bravely took on the tired topic of WWII and crafted a gorgeous story in "Skeletons at the Feast"?"

I am woefully disappointed in my favorite modern author. I felt no connection or "soul" from
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Phoebe
A very disappointing read. I figured out the whole thing about a third of the way through the book. It did not flow the way some of Chris' books have flowed. It felt as though he had done his research about DV and was compelled to show the reader that he knew a lot about the subject and interjected it throughout rather than embedding it skillfully. I am usually blown away by how Chris researches a subject and then is able to weave a great story. This time was not the case. I was also very sadden ...more
Susan
I really wanted to like this book but it was a disappointment from the beginning.
The characters are hollow, and the story is weak to non existent. The parts about the angels added nothing to the mystery story.Told by 3 different characters, there is little to bring the 3 parts together. The main characters, The Haywards are dead before the story begins. Who killed who, and why is speculated on by all of the narrators.

All I could come up with are questions, why the romance between the angel auth
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Lisa Nocita
Chris Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors. His novels often take a moral issue and wring every complexity and nuance from it, leading the reader on a roller coaster ride wondering how it will all turn out. Secrets of Eden has the potential to do this, but in the end, fails, in my opinion. I felt the novel was forced and completely predictable. At one point, towards the end of the novel, I began to re-evaluate my opinion thinking (hoping) that I was absolutely wrong in my smug prediction form ...more
Diane
The title alone of Chris Bohjalian's latest book: The Secrets of Eden, drew me in, and never let go. Having read all of this author's books, I can say without a doubt that Bohjalian is one of those talented authors, who can expertly write about controversial subject matters and family issues while keeping the reader hanging on and anxiously turning the pages,

Secrets of Eden takes place in the small town of Havehill, Vermont. The story is told through the perspectives of four central characters.
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Annika
This is a haunting, almost humorless book. I can't say at all that I disliked it, though. I read it within a few days, and only suspecting the "who done it" until the very end (I was right, for those who care).

The author breaks his story up into four voices: Reverend Stephen Drew, State Attorney Catherine Benincasa, New Age author Heather Laurent, and fifteen year-old Katie Hayward.

The book begins with the Reverend's Stephen Drew's memory of baptizing a member of his congregation and the morning
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Diane
Ooooh. This is the second book in a row on domestic abuse. My brain needs to read something light.
This story is told by four voices - the minister, the detective, the "lover" and the daughter of the murdered couple.
Once again, a woman is killed by her abusive husband and then dies himself. It turns out, though, that he did not commit suicide - someone shot him. The minister is suspect because he had an affair with the murdered woman. After the murders, he leaves the town and this makes him suspe
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Kasa Cotugno
Chris Bohjalian tells vivid tales of families in crisis with topics of universal interest. His latest is an in depth account of the troubled marriage of George and Alice, which has climaxed into their apparent murder/suicide. By judicious release of information, he has created a mystery out of what at first seems to be a straight forward event. There are four narrators, each with a distinctive voice. Stephen Drew, Alice's guild-ridden pastor, opens with his enigmatic account; the final account i ...more
Jen C (ReadinginWBL)
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian raises awareness of the devastating effects of domestic violence on families. The story starts out with the deaths of George and Alice Hayward in a murder/suicide situation. A few members of the small town in Vermont are aware of the spousal abuse that Alice suffered at the hands of George, but many were not. There are many secrets that come to light throughout the book.

The story is told in four parts by four different narrators. Part one is told Stephen Drew,
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Wise Women, Giggl...: SECRETS OF EDEN .... Book 2 ~ Oct 2011 SPOILERS 9 42 Oct 31, 2011 11:29AM  
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3509
Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 17 books, including ten New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into roughly 30 languages and three times become movies.

The paperback of his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, was just published.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Cour
...more
More about Chris Bohjalian...
Midwives The Sandcastle Girls The Double Bind Skeletons at the Feast The Light in the Ruins

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“We may talk a good game and write even better ones, but we never outgrow those small wounded things we were when we were five and six and seven.” 41 likes
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