Cheri's Reviews > Secrets of Eden

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
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's review
May 31, 2011

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bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read in May, 2011

"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 recipients of the kindness of the Women's Circle equating them to the angels among us. For the first portion of this book, I was compelled to read on by the hint of a promise to the return to Bohjalian's former ability to weave a spell with his words. While he remains in the minister's narrative, at least initially, he doesn't veer too far from this path. Enter the character of Heather Laurent and it changes swiftly enough.

It isn't simply that Heather Laurent believes in literal Angels walking among us, or that her character is a supposedly well known "new age" author of some renown, the character is simply too annoying to not be a detriment to enjoying a large portion of the story by her mere presence. Perhaps this was what Bohjalian was striving for, but it seems unlikely.

The murder-suicide storyline has its ups and downs, none of the characters associated with the investigative end of it are particularly likeable characters, but I think what I disliked most was how stilted, annoyed / annoying, one dimensional the voices of most of the characters outside of the daughter (Katie) and Stephen Drew come across - that is discounting the "excerpts" from Laurent's "books" which I could have done without.
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Cheri An addendum to my review: Since this review, I've read Chris Bohjalian's "The Sandcastle Girls", which is beautiful, a heart-grabbing story, beautifully written, and I was delighted to read another Bohjalian tale that stole my heart. If you've read Bohjalian and loved his writing & ability to grab you with his story-telling skills, "The Sandcastle Girls" is a beautifully told tale.

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