Saturday, July 16, 2011

Secrets of Eden By Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of EdenSecrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 process way too much. Good writers balance their stories with telling and showing, using what is appropriate for each situation. Secrets of Eden is a perfect example of a book where telling is most often the proper choice.

Bohjalian has separated the book into four parts, each narrated by a different character. They tell the story from their point of view in a way that adds to the suspense while painting a full picture of their personalities.

I'm going to recommend this book to my book club, because it's perfect for discussions. The topics include faith crisis, domestic abuse, and the difference between over-the-top spiritual beliefs and conventional religion. I could see us talking for days on any one of those subjects. I've also read and loved The Double Bind and Skeletons at the Feast, but I'm going to choose this one to suggest to our group.

The story is about a murder suicide that occurs in a small Vermont town. The murder victim is a member of a Baptist church. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it deeply affect the minister of that church. I don't want to say much more than that. If you want spoilers you'll have to go to another review.

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