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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,677 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris Bohjalian Narrator: Mark Bramhall, Susan Denaker, Rebecca Lowman, Kathe Mazur Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9780307705044
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"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels. 

Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice’s daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen – who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.
But then the State's Attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Superb…Fans of Bohjalian’s…other novels know to expect the unexpected and, thanks to his creativity and cunning, readers usually get walloped by one heck of a plot twist by book’s end.”

    USA Today

  • “To call this fine novel a mystery would be like calling the Hallelujah Chorus a nice song…Bohjalian has written a gripping story that keeps the reader turning pages to find out what really happened…But there is so much more in this rich story. Bohjalian delves into the profound mysteries of human existence. What is faith? What is love? And who are really the angels among us?”

    Winston-Salem Journal

  • “Suspenseful…searing…Bohjalian has written a literary murder mystery that hooks readers early and keeps its secrets until the end…Bohjalian’s book is about the power of secrets and sacrifice and a warning against jumping to judgment. Those who doubt their faith, he writes, are sometimes the strongest among us.”

    Miami Herald

  • “This book will entertain you with its suspense, but it will also make you think about how hurtful secrets can be.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “Superbly written—vivid and horrifying without being melodramatic…A tribute to Bohjalian’s storytelling skill.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Chris Bohjalian has always known how to keep the pages turning…Bohjalian describes the aftermath of that ruinous night in varied voices, effortlessly slipping into the heads of the shaken local pastor, the no-nonsense deputy state attorney, and the best-selling author whose own past draws her to the scene of the crime…A study of guilt and grief.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Bohjalian has a knack for creating nuanced, detailed first-person female characters…Secrets of Eden speeds along pleasingly as both thriller and character study.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A superb ensemble cast keeps the characters clearly delineated in this harrowing story.”

    AudioFile

  • “Bohjalian has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won’t disappoint…A masterfully human and compassionate tale.”

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • “Artfully crafted…Poignant…Weaving in an atmosphere of doubt and intrigue presents a perfect opportunity for debate about the real meaning of right and wrong.”

    Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

  • “Bohjalian’s most splendid accomplishment to date…A fantastic choice for book clubs, this novel deals beautifully with controversial topics of domestic abuse, faith, and adultery without resorting to sensationalism. Breathtaking.”

    Library Journal, starred review

  • A "Must-Read Book for Spring," Today Show, Weekend Edition
  • IndieBound Indie Next pick, February 2010
  • "Superb. . . .Fans of Bohjalian's 11 other novels (including Midwives) know to expect the unexpected and, thanks to his creativity and cunning, readers usually get walloped by one heck of a plot twist by book's end. In Secrets of Eden, the old saw that none of us knows what really goes on in a house when the shades are drawn rings chillingly true. Carol Memmott, USA Today
  • Superbly written - vivid and horrifying without being melodramatic....a tribute to Bohjalian's storytelling skill. The Boston Globe
  • Bohjalian has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won’t disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew’s Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel’s first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents’ marriage also ended in tragedy. Stephen’s deeply sympathetic narration is challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen’s abrupt departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice), and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards’ now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of Bohjalian’s more exotic works will miss learning something new, but this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale. Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
  • Bohjalian "drops bombshell clues...and weaves subtle nuances of doubt and intrigue into a taut, read-in-one-sitting murder mystery. Booklist, starred and boxed review
  • Bohjalian's most splendid accomplishment to date. . .A fantastic choice for book clubs, this novel deals beautifully with controversial topics of domestic abuse, faith, and adultery without resorting to sensationalism. Breathtaking. Library Journal, starred review
  • Specificity and complexity and. . .a somber power. Kirkus Reviews
  • Suspenseful. . .romantic. . .a deeply satisfying novel. The Washington Post Book World
     
  • Poignant. . .Harrowing. . . Bohjalian has given us an important addition to the story of World War II. The Boston Globe
  • Ingenious. . .compelling. . .Judging who's right or wrong is difficult and one senses that's just the way Bohjalian wants it. Los Angeles Times
     
  • Mixes the nail-biting brutality of The Kite Runner with the emotional intimacy of Anne Frank's diary. Austin American-Statesman
     
    Praise for The Double Bind
     
  • The Double Bind is simply one of the best written, most compelling, artfully woven novels to grace bookshelves in years. Immediately after the spellbinding surprise ending, readers will want to begin again at the first page. It’s THAT good. Associated Press
     
  • Artfully constructed and fiercely felt. . . Bohjalian. . .has deliberately wandered into thriller territory. . .He's playing with our minds in a way that ultimately evokes not Fitzgerald but that master of deviousness, Alfred Hitchcock. The Miami Herald
     
  • Terrifying. . .Laurel is an unforgettable, vulnerable, complicated character. The Los Angeles Times
  • "Suspenseful. . .searing. . .Bohjalian has written a literary murder mystery that hooks readers early and keeps its secrets until the end. . .Bohjalian's book is about the power of secrets and sacrifice and a warning against jumping to judgment. Those who doubt their faith, he writes, are sometimes the strongest among us. Amy Driscoll, The Miami Herald
  • Chris Bohjalian has always known how to keep the pages turning. In his latest novel, a small Vermont hamlet has been racked by a well-established couple's apparent murder-suicide. Bohjalian describes the aftermath of that ruinous night in varied voices, effortlessly slipping into the heads of the shaken local pastor, the no-nonsense deputy state attorney, and the best-selling author whose own past draws her to the scene of the crime. . .[A] study of guilt and grief. Entertainment Weekly
  • "Page-turning. . .Bohjalian has a knack for creating nuanced, detailed first-person female characters. . .SECRETS OF EDEN speeds along pleasingly as both thriller and character study. Seattle Times
  • “To call this fine novel a mystery would be like calling the Hallelujah Chorus a nice song. . .Bohjalian has written a gripping story that keeps the reader turning pages to find out what really happened...But there is so much more in this rich story. Bohjalian delves into the profound mysteries of human existence. What is faith? What is love? And who are really the angels among us? Winston-Salem Journal
  • [A] suspenseful page-turner...This book will entertain you with its suspense, but it will also make you think about how hurtful secrets can be. Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  • Secrets are sprinkled throughout a Chris Bohjalian novel like loose change spilled from the pockets of a master storyteller. . .exquisite. . .magic is rediscovered in 'Secrets of Eden.' Tom Mayer, Lake City Reporter
  • Selected for the February 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 2/19/2014

    " A decent read but not neatly as good as 'Midwives' by the same author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 2/19/2014

    " My first encounter with Chris Bohjalian, but not likely to be my last. The story revolves around the apparent murder-suicide of an abused woman and her beast of a husband. The police investigation finds evidence that what first appeared to be a cut and dried case may harbor dark secrets. The woman's pastor becomes the focus of the investigation, as it turns out he may have gotten a little too close to the situation. Mr Bohjalian's writing is beautiful and the plot was sufficiently well developed to keep the reader fully engaged. One felt the tragedy of a life cut short viscerally. A sad story, made all the more effective because of its plausibility. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paulette | 2/16/2014

    " This is a "best-seller". It held my attention and surprised me at the end. Not great fiction however. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alline | 2/7/2014

    " I really enjoyed Secrets of Eden. The foreshadowing throughout the book compelled me to keep going, it was difficult to put down (or turn off in my case because I listened to the audio version). Though the end was predictable, the twists and turns were interesting. I really enjoyed how the author developed the characters throughout the book, including the characters that died in the first chapter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginny | 2/4/2014

    " Mildly entertaining, but not much substance. Would be a good beach read. The angel theme didn't work at all for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mamatoe | 2/2/2014

    " So disappointing! I have enjoyed several of Bohjalian's books but I do not recommend this one. None of the characters are interesting and you can guess the ending within the first few pages. The one redeeming feature was the style of writing from each of the main characters' perspectives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jennbunny Byrkit | 1/30/2014

    " This was a pretty good book. It was the first time I have read this author. I liked how the author told the story through each characters' eyes. It definitely gives some insight into how the each person thinks/thought through the story. I also like stories which have twists to them and this one had a nice "surprise ending". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paula | 1/26/2014

    " Although this was not one of Bohjalian's better novels in my opinion (that one would go to Midwives), I did enjoy listening to this one most of the time, although I confess I did get reeeeeaaaalllly tired of all the angel talk. And for the first time ever I was not shocked, or even surprised, by the ending. I saw it coming. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb Christenson | 1/17/2014

    " Ahh...small town Vermont, fall foliage, community members who know everything about you...or do they? What are the secrets of Eden? Three narrators take turns telling their stories and the secrets of Eden. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick | 1/14/2014

    " I found my new favorite author!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz Flores | 1/13/2014

    " Typical Bohjalian - good mystery and insight into Vermont's small town life. Not his best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenna | 1/7/2014

    " Interesting, enjoyed probably as much as I did "The Double Bind." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Payne | 12/31/2013

    " enjoyed this book from Cynthia. I've had trouble reading lately and this was the page turner distraction I needed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda S. | 12/22/2013

    " Probably would have been a 4 star book if not for the weird angel lady. She was too annoying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katherine Beaver | 12/20/2013

    " Took a bit to get into it, but once I did it was really good! I guessed at the ending of course, but it was still a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Drew | 7/30/2013

    " OK - but not one of Chris' best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy T | 7/28/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. I was totally shocked by the ending. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tiffani Morgan | 4/27/2013

    " Well written and catches your interest but didn't keep mine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen Swain | 3/2/2013

    " I started this book a long time ago, and thought that I had finished it. Turns out I didn't. It is a fast and good read. I like how the author uses many different points of view to tell the story, and the ending is sort of a surprise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elise Buchanan | 12/21/2012

    " Well-written and researched novel by one of my favorite authors, Chris Bohjalian. The central theme revolves around domestic violence, and the author weaves faith, secrets, and a few twists and turns to keep the reader's interest throughout this fictional work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol Loveless | 10/30/2012

    " I enjoyed it very much. It was a quick read and I never knew for sure, "Who done it." This was my first Chis Bohjalian book to read after I saw him at St. Louis County Library in February 2011. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emma | 10/21/2012

    " I got tired of serious and informative books so picked this almost at random from the town library shelves. It was satisfying in the sense that I didn't 'call it' (although I'm not good at calling endings) so it worked for me as an evening fiction-before-bedtime book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bekki McClish | 7/4/2012

    " This kept me interested. I figured out the killer about 1/2 way, but I was involved with the characters at that point, so I had to keep going. It was interesting how it was broken down into the different view points. This would be a good discussion book for book club. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandra | 5/8/2012

    " I was a little disappointed in this one by CB...the end was predictable and the book just seemed to drag on, interviewing the characters for way too long with lots of repetition. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 2/14/2012

    " I've read a few of his. I did not like this one much. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mickie | 1/29/2012

    " Not his best but I still enjoyed the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jean | 6/28/2011

    " Once again, a mind bending story. Told from the viewpoint of four characters, the tragedy of a battered wife and her husband is studied. Chris B. always surprises me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 6/25/2011

    " yay! for discovering Chris Bohjalian. Can't wait to find another one of his books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phoebe | 6/25/2011

    " A page turner from the start! Great character development. I think I enjoy Bohjalian more with each new release. This one focuses on domestic abuse with a bit of religion/theology in the mix, but is in no way overly righteous or preachy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 6/22/2011

    " Decent read but the twist was pretty predictable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Abigail | 6/20/2011

    " Definitely nowhere near his other books, but still an okay read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liza | 6/13/2011

    " It was interesting kept me going. A small ne town abused wife is killed by her husband before he kills himself . .?. We soon find out theres a lot more to the story . . Minister, author, angels "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 6/13/2011

    " A quick read; great for a summer weekend. While a tad predictable, the story is still good til the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary ann | 6/11/2011

    " I didn't predict anything that was going to happen in this book.
    The minister's questioning of his faith is a common thing that he didn't resolve. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 6/9/2011

    " A decent read but not neatly as good as 'Midwives' by the same author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 6/8/2011

    " Really good ending. Very eye opening. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Char | 6/4/2011

    " Not one of my favorite Bohjalian novels. I guessed who the killer was almost from the beginning. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tawnie | 6/2/2011

    " I listened to this book through a library download. Really enjoyed listen. No sympathy for wife beaters...none "

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About the Author
Author Chris BohjalianChris Bohjalian is the critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including Midwives (a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection) and his most recent New York Times bestseller, Before You Know Kindness. His work has been translated into eighteen languages and published in twenty-one countries. He lives with his wife and daughter in Vermont.
About the Narrators

Mark Bramhall has won eighteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Audiobook Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been named by Publishers Weekly and AudioFile magazine among their “Best Voices of the Year” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

Susan Denaker is an actress and Earphones Award–winning narrator. Her extensive theater credits include numerous plays in the West End of London, national tours, many English rep companies, including a season with Alan Ayckbourn’s company in Scarborough. In the US, she has appeared in Our Town and Sweet Bird of Youth at the La Jolla Playhouse and Breaking Legs at the Westport Playhouse.

Rebecca Lowman is an actress and audiobook narrator who has won eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has starred in numerous television shows, including Law & Order, Big Love, NCIS, and Grey’s Anatomy, among many others. She earned her MFA from Columbia University.

Kathe Mazur has narrated many audiobooks, winning the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2014, being named a finalist for the Audie Award in 2013 and 2015, and winning seven AudioFile Earphones Awards. As an actress, she can be seen as DDA Hobbs on The Closer and in the upcoming Major Crimes. She has worked extensively in film, theater, and television, including appearances on Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House, Brothers and Sisters, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, ER, Monk, and many others.