‘Eden – it’s where your life began, Madeleine. It’s a place where the current of life runs stronger than anywhere else. In Eden the sun shines more fiercely, the rain strikes harder, and the trees are so green that it hurts your eyes. Eden is beauty and ugliness and joy and madness and decay. Beneath the great old silk-cotton tree, where the orchids and lianas hang right down to the ground, and the fireflies glitter like spangles from dusk till dawn…’
Madeleine is left to bring up her younger sister in a remote cottage on the west coast of Scotland after her mother, Rose, has died in childbirth. Tainted by the discovery that she is illegitimate, Madeleine is plunged into poverty in London before marrying out of desperation a wealthy cousin of her father’s, who does not know her true identity. And thus she comes to live at the old family estate of Eden in the hills of Jamaica, often talked about by her mother – a beautiful, decaying house with its overgrown garden, lush sugar plantation and myriads of secrets. Rose had loved Eden more than anything, and now Madeleine has to take her place there.
©2002 Michelle Paver (P)2009 Random House Audio
Narrative makes the world go round.
I got the feeling that the author was undecided about exactly what genre she was attempting as she started this triliogy - literary historical fiction, psychologically driven mystery, atmospheric period piece with supernatural elements, formula soap romance in exotic setting with a bit of historical verisimiltude... so I relegated the novel to diversion listening as I did chores. It's uneven enough not to be quality time close listening, but the narrative, characters, and setting are promising enough that I will download the next book in the trilogy -- with the suspicion/hope that later books might be top notch historical fiction with a literary bent.
This is definitely not the type of kid's fiction that Paver is now winning awards for - and if you're a fan of her later novels, check the late 19th setting before you download this. The setting and mentality is actually more Edwardian than late Victorian, and definitely not the far reaches of the past!
I thought that Anna Bentinck delivered better than her average narration.
I began the book and thought it must be for younger readers at first, but then I really started to enjoy it. The accents and dialogue are really well handled by the narrator. I was so looking forward to Part 2 of the trilogy and - how disappointing - it's not offered in audiobook form!
Next time I'm looking for at a book, I'll check that I can order any subsequent parts before clicking the 'Download' button!
I loved this book. Michelle Paver is a wonderful author and Anna Bentinck is a first class narrator.
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