Feb 08, 12
Recommended to Barbara by:
Read in March, 2010
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 family, friends and the community.
The novel is divided into sections with the story narrated by four different characters,the pastor who is experiencing a crisis of faith, the DA, a popular author and the daughter of the deceased couple. These people were, for the most part believable, with some exceptions. The acclaimed author, whose specialty was angels, was an unlikable annoyance for me. Her role seemed extraneous and only served as an useless distraction for certain characters. In fact, as I further analyze my reaction to this novel, I realize that her presence is the factor which caused my negative reactions to "The Secrets of Eden". The disillusioned pastor could have been further expanded, although his personna was well described. The DA was a tough, unbending woman. The teen-aged daughter's grief was vividly portrayed and her voice rang true.
Bohjalian's narrative is often compelling, always clearly descriptive and well researched. Although I had some glimmers of the conclusion, he withheld the answers to the mystery until the final pages with an unexpected twist. It is clear to me, one who has visited Vermont many times, that this author knows and loves his home. His vivid descriptions of the scenery, the foliage and the ambiance of this beautiful state certainly shine through!