Book Review: The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Mira

Publish Date: January 24, 2010

Origins: From Publisher for Review

Format: Trade Paperback

Order From:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I'm not even sure where to start with this review. The Legacy of Eden draws you into the lives of the Hathaways - the good, the bad, and the very ugly. It's amazing to me how much a house can become a home and grow its own personality...standing ever vigilant through time. They say "If only walls could talk..." and that is so true here. Meredith learns the hard way that you can't escape your past because it will always find a way to insinuate itself back into your life. Told in sections of time, with the present interspersed, The Legacy of Eden will grab you, twist you around, and leave you breathless by the time you are done. Slightly reminiscent of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but much darker and not filled with as much laughter along with the secrets.


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