I have always been a reader. I love books and there is never a point in my life where I am not beginning, in the middle or oh so close to finishing a book. What I have come to realize these past few weeks is that I have read a lot of books, but most of them lacked depth. They were the formulaic bad guy/good guy, nothing-of-meaning books. Since that was my modus operandi in the past, New Year’s Resolution Sue is going for something different. I am reading quality. Dare I say even close to “literature” rather than bubble gum books?
“Eden Close” is another one of those books which caused me to pause while reading and realize there was more behind the words. The kind of book which makes you reflect on your own past, your own bonds with people, roads less traveled. I am loving spending time between the covers of books which make me think.
This one is set in a small town in upstate New York, but you can make it even smaller and say it takes place in two lonely farmhouses and the interaction of two families and circumstances. Andrew, Andy as a boy, and neighbor Eden were childhood friends who knew there was much more between them than they showed. The murder of Eden’s father, and her attack and rape, ended the childhood friendship and this story begins with Andrew’s arrival home for his mom’s funeral. After 17 years, what remains to be resolved?
Shreve is an excellent author and the writing in this book is deep. As a mom with the last kid leaving home in August, and a husband 11 years older, this particular passage as Andrew enters his childhood bedroom caused me a tear or two:
“On the desk now is her sewing machine, and instead of the old pens and half-used notebooks he used to keep in the right-hand drawer, he found there last night an array of bobbins, fabric scraps and needles. There were other rooms she could have chosen to sew in – the sun room downstairs, where the light was good, or the guest bedroom. Perhaps, though, she wanted an excuse to be in this room, to savor some vestige of her son’s presence…..He tries to imagine what it must have been like for her to have a family and have it fall away; his own leaving and never really coming back except as a visitor; his father abandoning her five years ago with a heart attack.”
Sigh. Unlike my former genre of medical and legal thrillers, it is easy to imagine me as Andrew’s mother. The losses she felt, the loneliness of a once vibrant farmhouse filled with everyone for whom she cared. All gone as she spent her final years alone. And now Andrew has returned, and her death allows him the opportunity to examine his own current existence and make choices to continue on without meaning, or reach out to the one love he knew as a teenager.
I loved “Eden Close” and plan to find more Anita Shreve books in which to spend some time.