Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart - review

Sleeping In Eden
Nicole Baart

******  {six out of six stars}

Cover - I like this cover - the dress, the apple - you're not quite sure what you're going to get with this cover, but you hope it's going to be good.  It's dramatic in an understated way - which doesn't really make sense to me, but it's how I see it.

I won Sleeping In Eden in a giveaway.  I entered on a whim, since my main reading genres are SciFi and Urban Fantasy and this doesn't fit either category.  Even so, I do enjoy the occasional "palate cleanser" novel, so when I saw the description of this novel (first in one of those It's Monday posts, and then in the giveaway post) I decided it would be an interesting novel - and even though it was stated that a body is found in a barn - and hours later, another one is found buried in the floor....I wasn't quite prepared for just how intense this novel ended up.

There is two stories going on - and it's hard to describe without giving anything away.....

A smalltown doctor is called out to pronounce an apparent suicide dead.  This suicide happens to be a rather unlikable character, the owner of a large piece of property and an alcoholic prone to the midst of checking things out, another body is found under the floorboards of the barn (where the guy hung himself).

The young doctor is having some of his own problems.  His wife is just on the edge of leaving him, and he's sort of drifting through his life, barely hanging on but not doing a whole lot to convince her to stay. Seems like every time he tries to do something nice for her she reacts with anger.  Her character wasn't a very nice - or rather to me, she came across as a raging woman who wasn't going to make things easy for him.  She's gone through something to cause her to feel this intense sadness and rage, but she's taking it out on him, and he seems lost.  I was completely frustrated with his and her characters - which is a sign of a good writer.  Because I wasn't frustrated with stupid writing and lame characters, but I was frustrated with these incredibly well written characters who are lost in their suffering.  So buried in their own emotions that they don't really see what they're doing to the other, and the wife doesn't really seem to care about anything but her own feelings....until

There's this other character - who happens to be the daughter of the alcoholic who had committed suicide.  And she's been missing for about eight years....  There is some uncomfortable history between her and the doctor, even while the wife has a great love for this young woman, who is either the body under the floorboards, or ....

The other story line has to do with a young woman who falls in love with the new kid in town.  As she's growing, her neighbor - her friend's older brother, suddenly decides he's madly in love with her and there's this kind of strange relationship that develops.  She's not really that into him, and yet sometimes she is - but it's nothing like the intense feelings she has for this other guy - the new guy in town, who, according to some, isn't quite right for her (i.e. not good enough for her).  Now, here is another set of characters that you can't help feeling frustrated with.  You want to shake the girl and tell her not to be a fool.  You want to grab the new boy and tell him not to waste time.... you want to grab the neighbor boy and tell him.......well.  You get the gist of it.

And by the last section of the book, I was so involved with the two stories, and so irritated by a few of the characters, that I was left feeling a little wrung out by it all.  And the ironic thing, is that people really are that foolish, to waste time in relationships that aren't equal, to make the other one suffer because you don't feel good about something that happens, to shut out others because you are so engulfed with anger and grief over an event...

Damn, this woman wrote an intense story that can make you either swear to treat your own relationship better or make you want to just get away from everyone because it's just too hard to let people completely in....and that woman's rather hostile behavior to her husband hits just a little too close to home.  

You should read it.  It's at once sad, surprising and yet a little hopeful.

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