• Historical Fiction
  • General Fiction and Women Writers
  • YA Fiction
  • Suspense and Thrillers
  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Warning! "The Legacy of Eden" by Nelle Davy will be forever scorched in your mind!

Published by:  Mira/Harlequin
Pages:  377 
 Bookgroup Discussion Questions
and Author Interview
Genre:  Fiction

Book Cover Rating:
First impression tells me this is about American farmland.  Dark, foreboding sky warns of a less than blissful "Eden."  Best-selling author's blurb provides a glimpse into the story, as well.   I like this type of novel.
The girl on the cover seems young adult.  Does this mean it's not an adult fiction?  That gives me pause... 

Colors and Layout:  The field is washed out against a too pale girl's skin.  So it's jarring against the darker sky.  Would have been more pleasing if the corn were more "golden."  I like the general lay-out and the type scale.

I've not heard of the author.  She's an unknown I'd have to take a chance on.  But, all in all, I like the cover enough to look inside out of curiosity.      Rating:  C+

For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name—no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways—and the once-prosperous farm.

Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died—alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land or the memories.

Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City.  For seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name.

Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family…and her own part in their mottled history.

The Dame's Review:  

"The Legacy of Eden" is nothing short of a mesmerizing novel.  Once engaged, I couldn't stop reading it if I wanted to.  Every word must drip from Nelle Davy's illusionary pen like silver.  She is a word spinner--simply captivating and crushing your psyche from one sentence to the next.  Her writing abilities are staggering.  And this grotesque, family dynasty novel is of the best kind, reminiscent of Steinbeck's "East of Eden," and Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres."  I expect great things from Nelle Davy's book and from her in the future.

Primarily this is a novel written from the perspectives of women.  Women are complicated beings to begin with, and Nelle Davy creates her Hathaway characters with such complexity of feeling and depth that you can only believe they lived and breathed and acted just as she writes about them.  For instance, Lavinia Hathaway, the damaged, psychotic and destructive matriarch of the family is so malevolent, she's difficult to comprehend without having inside information into her evil plots and manipulations.  She's a triumph of a character!  And, she is the center from which the story works.  A vicious, devious, controlling woman who was the snake in the garden of Aurelia's eden, she 
orchestrates the demise of her family for several generations.  What a villian.  This is an amazing accomplishment by an author.  I've read so many books, and Lavinia is one of those similar to classical literature characters who you just don't forget.

"Hatred--it always comes down to that, doesn't it?  But I've found that it's always at its most potent when it's laced with love."  Lavinia Hathaway.

Meredith, the narrator and youngest of the three girl grandchildren of Lavinia, tells the story of their home, Aurelia, the farm that nurtured the Hathaway family for several generations.  Like most family homes, it embodied the tragedies and dark sides of the family while it sustained them, and held them together in a dance macabe.  Aurelia was the beautiful and the ugly...the harmful and the heart of their lives.  Memories were made there and those memories for good and for bad are what "The Legacy of Eden" is about.  Meredith also tells the intimate stories of each family member through the life details of her sisters, her grandmother and her aunt.

Nelly Davy takes simple tableaus such as the dinner table and creates powerful family scenes that crackle with the friction and horrors of a powder keg ready to ignite. She can make a subtle flick of a child's tongue over her teeth, and the gentle clatter of a tea spoon on a cup at the perfect moment in her dialog, send shivers through you.  Nelly knows family dysfunction and she can dish it out in perfect cadence with her imaginative writing.  It's just amazing to read.

When asked what inspired her to write her novel, Ms Davy said:  "I was inspired by Robert Graves "I, Claudius," and the Katherine Anne Porter quote: 

        "In the richest houses, in the most comfortable homes, the best people do the worst things to each other." 

This is a story set in a midwestern farm community in the 1930's to '70's. It seems a rather innocuous setting. But, it is an unimaginably envisioned tale of women and men who were acted upon by evil posing as good among them.  It's the story of mothers and daughters and sisters. Of love and loyalty. Of the exiled and the escapees.  It's the story of those who destoryed themselves and others. Of those who chose to forgive and those who chose never to forget.  And, it's ultimately a novel that will leave you examining yourself and your own motives in life...which may be the goal of all great literature.

Don't miss this book.

5+ stars




I would really like to read this one-
I love stories that are narrated by strong women. I am usually wary of novels that span so much time, but this one peaks my interest. Will you send it to me?

Share your thoughts!

Blogaholic Designs”=