'The Legacy of Eden'
Author: Nelle Davy
Published: Mira; Jan. 2012
Synopsis: For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name—no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways—and the once-prosperous farm.
Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died—alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land or the memories.
Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name.
My Take: I love a good family saga so I was intrigued by this book from the very beginning and was more than happy to participate in the book tour when approached! The Legacy of Eden is about a grand farm in Iowa and its amazing downfall. I found myself wondering what is it about farms in Iowa and their 'falls from grace' that intrigue authors since I had recently just read A Thousand Acres (click title for my review) and this had taken on almost the exact same topic, although in a very different format, both were tragedies.
The Legacy of Eden is alternately told in the present and the past and can sometimes be confusing to find out what time you are in because sometimes it is someone telling you their memories of the past and sometimes it is a direct storyline from that time period so whether the narrator is always reliable will remain up to you to discover for yourself. When the story opens, we are introduced to Meredith who lives in New York and is an artist, about as far from farm life in Iowa as you can get. She receives a letter from a lawyer and is immediately set into some serious bodily reactions that speak to some deep hurts from her past that she had never wanted to deal with again. She calls up her sister, only to discover that nobody else wants to deal with them either. See, the letter tells Meredith and her sisters that the farm of their ancestors, Aurelia, is now in disrepair and the last landholder, their uncle, has passed away. It needs to be sold and the belongings do to. You wouldn't believe that a once powerful piece of land could be driven into the ground like that but it could and so the flashes to the past begin.
So begins the story of Lavinia, originally known as Anne-Marie. Once a small-town doctor's wife and Meredith's grandmother, Lavinia social-climbs her way to the matriarchal position of the wife of Cal Hathaway, the head of Aurelia, the farm of envy in Iowa. What continues throughout this book is their life and what happens to make them spin into a downward spiral. At turns a mystery and an intense fiction, it was a page-turner to be sure, it read unlike any other I had ever read before. Were the actions Lavinia committed throughout her life as heinous as everyone had made reference to throughout the book? Hardly. For as much foreshadowing as there was, the 'crimes' committed hardly held up to the level I expected until the very end (when they did!). Also, with all of the changes in tense and time periods I would recommend for more usage of proper names to clarify who is talking and less use of pronouns to help with clarity for the reader, but it certainly is an intriguing first novel by Nelle Davy and I look forward to seeing what else she has to offer in the future!
Cover Lust: This isn't the cover I had on my ARC but it appears to be the one on the published version. I like this one though. It's very dramatic with the impending storm clouds and the young woman. She could be Meredith or Lavinia.
The publicist has kindly offered up two new copies for me to giveaway! The deadline for this giveaway is Mar. 13th; entries open to those in the US and Canada.
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3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST Mar. 13th. I will draw the winners using random.org and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!