Eden- Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

Synopsis from Amazon:

Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.

Eden is the account of the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as Becca prepares to disclose her secret and her son and brothers conspire to put the estate on the market, interwoven with the century-old history of Becca’s family―her parents’ beginnings and ascent into affluence, and her mother’s own secret struggles in the grand home her father named “Eden.”

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Such a beautifully written debut novel by Blasberg. I was enamored by the emotional pull this book had on me. As a parent, you always wonder if you made the right choice for your children and yourself. This book was full of those moments, but they differed greatly in their importance and also by expectations based on the generation. What I loved most was that this book was written from the perspectives of several women, vastly different in their own ways, but all tied together by their family name and their troubles. There’s repetition throughout the generations that the reader will find insightful and obvious, but the fact that Blasberg described it in such a detailed and personal way for each character makes it feel like their problems are unique, although similar.

This novel has described some amazing historical events- WWII, the Great Depression, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. As a lover of historical fiction novels, this once was an intricate balance of that and women’s fiction, magnifying the best parts of both genres. The different stories emerging from several chronological times is masterfully handcrafted and perfected by Blasberg- beginning with the life of Bunny and Sadie and ending with little Rae. Oh, and the details surrounding the life one would have at an estate such as Eden along the beautiful coast of Long Harbor- none were overlooked when describing the lifestyle and expectations of one in such a position in society. As the book continued on, readers find out more and more background about the life the Meisters have led and why this Fourth of July weekend was so important to Becca.

Eden is teeming with secrets, courage, strength, abundant with tales from a dysfunctional family, and with a message that the spirit of family, though dim at times, can prevail anything that is set as an obstacle. With its’ multi-dimensional and multi-generational characters and setting, Blasberg has hit it out of the park with her first novel. I cannot wait to see what she has coming for us next. I highly recommend Eden and it’s a strong contender for my favorite novel so far this year.

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