Book Review by Michelle Goetzl

When Becca Fitzgerald’s husband dies suddenly, he leaves her with the shock that he had mismanaged their finances. Faced with this, Becca fears that she is going to have to give up “Eden,” her beloved summer home that her father built more than 70 years earlier. As she gathers her family at “Eden” one last time, her financial situation is not the only secret that is revealed, for it turns out that Becca had a secret of her own.

“Eden” is a character-driven family drama with well fleshed-out characters. At the center of the story is Becca Meister Fitzpatrick—wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community. The story is told by interweaving the events leading up to the Fourth of July weekend in 2000 when Becca prepares to disclose her secret with the story of Becca’s parents, the creation of “Eden”, and Becca’s youth. However, “Eden” is also the story of Becca’s father, Bunny Meister, who came from nothing but managed to build up an empire that enabled him to build his own “Eden.”

While we learn of how “Eden” came to be, we are also given a glimpse of the struggles that four generations of women faced. As author Jeanne Blasberg explains, her novel “creates a collage of female experience,” as each of these women approach motherhood in very different ways. From unexpected, later-in-life pregnancies to those out of wedlock, “Eden” shows how societal norms have changed over the years.

“Eden” doesn’t only deal with how the standards of the times impacted women but also how they touched everyone. In the same way that unwed mothers were often “sent away” to have their babies in secret, other illnesses were often kept quiet for fear of public scorn. Epilepsy, for one, held great stigmas, as did depression. “Eden” touches on both of these difficult subjects with grace.

Blasberg’s novel is at once readable and yet also thought provoking. There are many layers to this story that are likely to grab your attention. It is a story about families and their relationships. It is the story of the evolution of women’s roles.“Eden” shows how one family dealt with traditions, secrets and hope. For anyone who enjoys historical social fiction, this book is a wonderful journey through time.

 

Goetzl writes an online blog—“Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at booksmykidsread@gmail.com