4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Eden Lost by Richard Taylor is a historical fiction book. When the Spanish–American War breaks out, fate will make an American businessman named Joshua Armand (Josh) meet a Filipino nationalist named Isabella. The heroine of the book at first has great admiration for the United States. She innocently believed that the Americans were liberators who would deal with the Spaniards and then hand over their country to the Filipinos. Subsequent events will be like a punch in her face, and she will see that her beloved country has just changed hands.
Much of the book will then take place during the Philippine–American War, and the plot will revolve between military operations, espionage, and the romance between Josh and Isabella. At the beginning of every chapter, a journalist accounts for the events as if he were writing for a newspaper. Several characters were divided and confused, not knowing whether they owe loyalty to their country or personal feelings.
There is a great deal of debate about what makes a book of historical fiction a classic. Many say the work needs to be historically accurate. Others believe the work should portray the lives of exceptional characters who are somehow ahead of their time. What pleases me the most is when this type of book teaches me about historical events, and at the same time, it is pleasant to read. And that's what happens with Eden Lost. I had never read anything about these events themselves, but it was fascinating to see how these historical events took place. I believed that before World War I, the US had focused entirely on consolidating its borders on the American continent. It was also amazing to see how some things never change. I discovered in the book that several intellectuals at the time criticized the American meddling in the Asian country. I loved finding out how one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, was one of the most important members of the American Anti-Imperialist League. That's what I liked the most about the book.
There isn't a glaring failure, but I didn't particularly appreciate how Isabella handled her relationship with Josh. The Filipino heroine was a brave woman who thought practically only about the future of her country. That's why I found it eerie when the author described his book as a "romantic novel." Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against strong female characters who have goals beyond a relationship with a man. The main point is that she treats her lover in a cold and impersonal way in most of the book.
Few historical fiction books have managed to express human contradictions and the desire for freedom like Eden Lost. Besides, it's impeccably edited. Therefore, I give it four out of four stars. While I'm not too fond of the relationship between Josh and Isabella, I'm aware that this is personal taste and that in no way can it be considered a reason to deduct one star from the final score. I recommend this book to those interested in learning more about colonizing countries in Asia. Today we are free, and few people value what freedom really means. Many people in the past had to die so that their children could have a better future.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon