Featured Official Review: Eden: A Novel

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Featured Official Review: Eden: A Novel

Post by bluegreenmarina » 29 Dec 2017, 18:01

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Eden: A Novel" by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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There is little that impacts our lives more than the home in which we grow up, and the family that surrounds us during our formative years. Eden: A Novel by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg is the story of a large home set on the coast of Rhode Island, and of the different generations of the family that inhabits it.

At the head of the family is Becca, who has invited the rest of the clan to the Eden property for a long-overdue reunion, with the intention of revealing a long-buried family secret. At the same time, she faces a looming financial crisis, and must decide whether to sell the property or to enlist her brothers in taking on part of the debt. Adding pressure to the situation is a tense relationship with her daughter, Rachel, and her granddaughter’s unexpected pregnancy.

As the family gathers, the narrative flashes back to previous decades, giving the reader context for the personalities that emerge among its members. We come to learn the history of Eden, and why the home (and land surrounding it) mean so much to each of the branches of the family. When the big secret is revealed, certain events are set into motion that change the course of the family’s lives forever. Relationships are tested, bonds are formed and strengthened, and the fate of the oceanside property is sealed.

This story is rich with cozy and descriptive visuals, from the gorgeous coastline, to the delicate place-settings at Eden’s fancy dinners. The narrative is engaging throughout, and moves at a brisk and lively pace. The setting, as well as the characters, are nuanced and believable. One of my favorite elements of this story was that none of the people were entirely good, or entirely bad people. Rather, they were just human, with realistically complicated motives and inconsistent behaviors. The main characters, as well as the side-characters, were all multi-dimensional and memorable, and we continued to learn more about them right up to the end of the story.

Though the plot itself was not particularly groundbreaking - it was, at its core, simply a story of parents and their children - it was the vivid character development that set this story apart. As the narrative progressed, new layers of personality were revealed in each character, and new perspectives were presented on the situation facing the family. Even after the big reveal, when Becca confessed the secret she had been holding on to for decades, additional smaller reveals continued until the end. In short, this was an enjoyable and exciting family drama, one that I breezed through enthusiastically.

Other than one small error (a missing punctuation mark), I did not see any typos or mistakes. I cannot think of any other specific negatives to report, other than the potential that it may not be a story for a wide audience. Since this is a story of a wealthy family living in a big house, the types of issues the characters face are so-called “first-world problems” and some readers may find it hard to relate to them. At the same time, the author does an excellent job in reminding us that wealth does not alter the underlying humanity in all of us, and that we all have the same emotional core. This is a book for readers who enjoy character-driven narratives, family histories about interwoven lives, and stories that explore relationships between mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.

Eden: A Novel
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Post by Nitish kapoor » 01 Jan 2018, 02:57

A good and interesting novel

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Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 01 Jan 2018, 06:42

Every family has its own drama. Afterall, we are all human bred with emotions. I'm curious to know what is the family secret. Thank you for your review.
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Post by Mtsweni Nelsy » 01 Jan 2018, 08:34

That sounds like a book full of suspense. Thanks for such an interesting review.
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Post by HouseOfAtticus » 01 Jan 2018, 10:19

I love the title of this novel. Thank you for this wonderful review. It is quite helpful. :D

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Post by kandscreeley » 01 Jan 2018, 10:28

Though the story is not unique, the character development really can make a story. I'm glad it's done well! Loved your review. Thanks.
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Post by N_R » 01 Jan 2018, 16:49

This book sounds very interesting, I will have to add it to my 'wanting to read' bookshelf!

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Post by Kat Berg » 01 Jan 2018, 17:31

Even with your review you have me wondering what the "big secret" is, and how it can so much impact on the fate of the family home. It has been awhile since I have read a character driven novel. They can be a nice change of pace. Especially good for a cold, cozy, winter read.

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Post by Yaone » 02 Jan 2018, 01:42

Great review. Haha from the title of the book I honestly thought the story had something to do with the Bible.
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Post by felodp9 » 04 Jan 2018, 01:35

The review seems captivating with descriptive visuals,I hope the secret is such a big one?

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 06 Jan 2018, 01:07

Story of the coast of Rhodes island is wonderful and unique. A beautiful lovely review bluegreenmarina. Feel free to check my reviews.
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Post by inaramid » 06 Jan 2018, 10:16

Ah, I want to know the secret! It must have been hard to provide a summary without spoiling anything. I'm intrigued. This is going to my to-read list.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2018, 14:35

This sounds like a compelling family drama, with excellent character development. It's impressive when minor characters are well drawn. I am also very curious to know what the big secret is just from reading the review!

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Post by bazolo » 08 Jan 2018, 10:41

From the review it seems the book has little complications on understanding. From the great readers it's good book we can learn the wealth is not everything in life
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Post by CommMayo » 08 Jan 2018, 13:33

Very nice review of this book. I think the higher quality novels make it easier to give it a good write up. You drew me in and got me interested right away. Good job.

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