by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg
Confession, I grew up in the 70’s when books were produced by a few big publishing companies. This meant there were not as many new books available in a year compared to today where self publishing and indie publishing are very popular. It also meant, given the expense of publishing and marketing a book, authors tended to be judged and edited by professionals with skills and money on the line. I love the current world where more than a chosen lucky few can share their wordsmithing skills. If you follow my other blog, https://newoldgirl.wordpress.com/, you’ll remember I was seriously ill for 17 months and for most of that time I lost the ability to read. Words did not compute, and my short term memory did not work.
Once I regained my health and ability to read, I wanted all the books. I discovered indie authors and spend more than my share of time reading and listening. I also have learned that just because you CAN put pen to paper, doesn’t mean you should. I have not loved every indie project I have read. Time is short and if I’m not embracing the material, I put it aside and move on.
That said, I happily declare I loved every second of the audio book, Eden: A Novel. Written by new author Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, this is a book which moves seamlessly between time. Blasberg tells the story of a wealthy family going from past to present, generation to generation. During one moment we hear the intricate details of a young woman, war-time America, moments of indiscretion ….. then fast forward to modern day and see the now-grandmother and her progeny dealing with current life situations.
This method of storytelling can sometimes be confusing to the reader as tracking past and present, and age of characters is complicated. In Eden, however, Blasberg is so talented, her storytelling is easy to follow. I wouldn’t label this a casual “beach read” however as the nuances and layers of humanity call the reader to become fully invested; the actions of a grandmother contrasted with her modern-day granddaughter are compelling. I found myself staying up too late each night because I wanted to know what comes next.
In addition to the clever use of time as a distinct part of the character of Eden, Blasberg utilized location as an integral part of the narrative. The reader is easily transported between the richness of life in the early 20th century steel town of Pittsburgh and then flows quite naturally to days on the New England beach where the wealthy family vacations through the ages. The use of a life-changing hurricane was particularly successful as a story telling device and the beach house itself came alive through each chapter of the tale.
Audiobooks are made or broken by the talent of the narrator. Performance counts and Marnye Young delivered. Every character was easy to picture and she brought them each to life. Hers is a comfortable voice which helped flesh out the story. Knowing this is the debut novel for the author, and having never come across Young on an Audible.com book before, I looked her up and was very pleased to see a selection of books she has narrated which I can now enjoy.
I was gifted this audiobook by the author, and am pleased to share this honest review and highest recommendation of Eden: A Novel. Blasberg is a talented writer and I hope she continues to write. And write.