The author and teacher, Catherine Bruton (see our copy of We can be heroes by Catherine Bruton in the library) has written that Eden is “Lyrical, evocative, tense and utterly un-putdownable,” and she goes on to say that it is ” a modern day Rebecca. One of the best books I have read in years” and I have to agree.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was published in 1938 (you can find a copy in the library) , and it’s popularity was continued with the black and white film made in 1940 starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. It is a story about a young second wife who feels naive and inadequate following in the shadow of her husband Maxim’s beautiful, confident and sophisticated first wife, Rebecca. She is frightened that her husband has married too soon after the death of his first wife, and her fears of inferiority and rejection are kept alive and fuelled by Rebecca’s maid, the evil Mrs Danvers. Rebecca takes place in Cornwall and revolves around Maxim’s house and estate known as Manderley. The first line of the novel is very famous, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
Like Rebecca, Joanna Nadin’s Eden is a mystery romance centred around a beautiful house called Eden, and the central character is someone in awe of her wild and daring cousin; an aspiring actress.
Eden is a book which starts slowly. A young girl in Cornwall, Evangeline, is remembering her life at Eden, past unresolved issues and grieving the loss of her older cousin in a fire. Thoughts of regret are running through her head, and as more characters are introduced into the story (with dialogue) it starts to gather speed, and the quirky similes become less overpowering and more enjoyable. Readers gradually learn the history of the girls in flashbacks, as the present (involving two love triangles) leads to its dramatic conclusion. Is there an equivalent Mrs Danvers in Eden? I think maybe there is, but I will leave it to you to discover who. This is a real page turner and won’t take you long to race to the end.
P.S. Incidentally, when Daphne Du Maurier wrote Rebecca she was accused of plagiarism for using the same story line as A Sucessora by Carolina Nabuco (previously published in Portuguese in 1934). This was something Du Maurier denied by writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times in February 1942.
More books by Joanna Nadin