Fiction – paperback; Abacus; 265 pages; 1994.
Eden Close is a kind of sweet, simply told novel, the first by the prolific Anita Shreve, which explores the notion of love and loss.
It’s about a man, Andrew, who returns to his childhood home after the death of his mother. As he packs up her things and makes plans to sell her home, he finds himself reminiscing about the past and reflecting on an horrific incident that still haunts him. He was only a teenager when his neighbour, Jim Close, was shot and killed in his home. Jim’s daughter, Eden, Andrew’s childhood companion, was blinded in the incident.
Seventeen years on, Eden still lives at home with her elderly mother, but is shut off from the world with no friends and no life. Andrew tries to befriend her again and in doing so, begins to slowly chip away at the secrets Eden has kept all these years about the real truth of that murderous night in which her life was changed forever.
Shreve’s languid prose adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere of life in small town America. But at times I felt the story was a little dull and slow-paced and tended to work over the same ground again and again.
Despite this, the climax was unexpected and worth waiting for. Still, if you haven’t read anything by Shreve before, I’m not sure this is the first place to start; her other novels are more accomplished.