Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of EdenDo you ever really know someone? When circumstances become overwhelming, doubt and suspicion can grow and shatter lives, as happens in Chris Bohjalian’s Secrets of Eden. The story follows the investigation into the death of a battered woman, Alice Hayward, who is presumed to be murdered by her husband, who appears at first to have then shot himself. When a smart deputy district attorney determines that the evidence shows there was, in fact, no suicide, but a second murder, the deputy district attorney begins to relentlessly pursue a young minister in this small Vermont town whose attempts to comfort and counsel Alice had earlier turned into an affair.

The story is told layer by skillful layer, as is so typical Chris Bohjalian’s past rich renderings of family and community life. In Secrets of Eden, he draws us in and makes us care for even the most flawed of characters – well, perhaps all but one. The minister is losing his faith, his congregation and friends are losing faith in him, a woman who communes with angels tries to intervene, and we are given peeks and long looks into the lives of those who surrounded the Haywards before their
deaths.

Part mystery, part reflection on the meaning of trust, love, truth, and sacrifice, Secrets of Eden is an incredible tale about what lies beneath the surface of a small New England town; book clubs across the country are already selecting it.

Shaye Areheart Books/Random House;ISBN 978-0-30739-498-9; $15.
Secrets of Eden: Reading Group Guide

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