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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

the legacy of eden Title: The Legacy of Eden

Author: Nelle Davy

ISBN: 978-0-7783-2955-8

Publisher: Mira

Format: Trade Paperback


How I read it: ARC from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations

Rating 4.5 Crowns

When New York sculptor Meredith Pincetti receives a letter from a law firm, alerting her to the death of her cousin, she is suddenly confronted by her disturbing past—a past she successfully escaped and buried seventeen years ago.

Informed that Aurelia, the once-grand Iowa estate and farm where she was raised, is to be sold at auction to settle her late cousin’s debts, Meredith resolves to return to her family homestead and collect the few possessions that belonged to her parents. 

In doing so, Meredith recalls the spectacular rise and disastrous fall of the Hathaway family beginning with her grandfather, Cal’s, dreams and ending with his utter disappointments.  We experience her grandmother, Lavinia’s, iron will and ceaseless machinations to ensure that her vision of Aurelia comes to pass.  As Aurelia thrives, becoming the largest farm in the county, behind the veneer things are crumbling.  Dissipation, brutality and betrayal find fertile ground in the next generation of Hathaways.  Seemingly idyllic childhoods precede the exile and return of Hathaways from multiple generations—including Meredith. 

And, as Meredith returns to Aurelia, she is forced to confront her own role in her family’s tortured fall from grace.  What part did she play in the events that took place during her adolescence two decades earlier?  How does her festering relationship with her sisters mirror similar connections between her father’s and grandfather’s siblings?  What secrets did she leave behind when she fled Iowa for New York? 

Though founded and overseen by male Hathaways, it is the women—Lavinia and her sister-in-law, Piper; Julia, Cal’s daughter from his first marriage; Meredith and her sisters, Claudia and Ava—who play pivotal roles in shaping the events that occur at Aurelia.  And, ultimately, it is they who reveal its unspeakable secrets.

(from the publishers)

My Thoughts:

Contemporary gothic novels are hard to find and when I was offered a review copy of The Legacy of Eden, which was being compared to a gothic novel, I jumped at the chance and I must say that I was not disappointed.

From the very first pages of Nelle Davy’s debut novel I was drawn into a world that was created around one old farmhouse called Aurelia and the secrets of the Hathaway family. Perfectly paced with key elements being revealed at just the right time to evoke curiosity I found that I could not put this book down.

I loved the way this novel jumps from the present to the past as the story of Aurelia and the Hathaway family unfolds. While some characters were easier to like than others and some events were explained and other overlooked overall, The Legacy of Eden was a brilliantly told family saga. I think that this would be the perfect novel to discuss with a reading group.

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