Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg
She Writes Press (2017)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/17)
“Eden” is the poignant and powerful debut novel by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg.
Prior to the Great Depression, Bunny and Sadie Meister built a summer beach home called Eden, in prestigious Long Harbor, Rhode Island. Throughout the years, generations have made Eden their summer retreat; it is a place of so many memories. Except for a great storm when Eden was badly damaged, Eden has provided a safe harbor for the multiple generations of Meisters. Eden has also harbored a lot of secrets for this family. Many of these secrets come to light as the family comes to gather for what appears to be the last time on a Fourth of July weekend. Bunny and Sadie’s daughter Becca, who also became the steward of the home, has to let the family know that after her husband’s death, she will no longer be able to afford to hang on to Eden. The events leading up to this meeting are quite dramatic.
“Eden” tells a compelling story. The author has a creative art for switching between generations in each chapter. To avoid confusion, she carefully notes which era each chapter is about. There is also a diagram of the family tree, in the front of the novel, which helped me stay on track with family members. I loved being able to look back into each generation of the family because it gave me a better understanding of how they evolved. Seeing into their past made their quirks more understandable. They also became very familiar to me, and I loved being able to follow them through the generations. Because of the depth of the story, I was able to feel like I was a part of it. Even though all loose ends are carefully and artfully tied up, I still felt disappointed when the story ended. I am hopeful that the next generation of family members will continue to tell their story in second volume!
I highly recommend reading “Eden” by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg. It provided me with an interesting escape into another family’s drama. I wish I was able to read it while on vacation, so that I wouldn’t have had to put the book down so often! I also think it would be a great choice for a reader’s group. There is so much history and nostalgia in these pages, the story feels real!