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One Foot in Eden: A Novel Paperback – December 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312423055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312423056
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rash's moody, potent slice of Southern gothic fiction centers on a murder and its devastating effect on a small Appalachian town in the 1950s. When Holland Winchester, local troublemaker in tiny Seneca, S.C., vanishes without a trace, it's up to town sheriff and WWII veteran Will Alexander to search for answers. Holland's mother claims to have heard a gunshot, and she insists that neighbor Billy Holcombe killed her son. Events unfurl slowly and methodically, and it's soon revealed that Billy's pregnant wife, Amy, had been having an affair with Holland. Shifting from Sheriff Alexander's narration, the story continues in Amy's voice as she recounts her frustration with Billy's sterility and her increasingly desperate need to bear a child. An impulsive visit to a spell-weaving widow for advice proves to be Amy's downfall when she's told that if her husband can't give her a child, she should "lay down with a man who can." The ensuing drama of infidelity, jealousy and betrayal is told by a chorus of characters with distinctive Appalachian voices: chief among them are Amy, Billy and Amy's young son, Isaac, whose discovery of the identity of his real father is both heartbreaking and liberating. As the valley is flooded to make room for a power company's land takeover, further tragedies unfold. Poet and short story writer Rash writes lyrically while maintaining the suspense of the central mystery. As each character reveals his or her secrets, the tale builds into a quiet storm-and a terrific first novel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"A classic tale of passion and tragedy. Each voice rings as true as the sound of an ax in the cold early morning air." --Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

"Equal parts vintage crime novel and Southern Gothic, full of aching ambivalence and hard compromises, and rounded off by bad faith and bad choices, One Foot in Eden is a veritable garden of earthly disquiet." --Los Angeles Times

"Ruggedly beautiful...Reading Rash's tale is like listening to a plaintive mountain ballad about a time and place long vanished: the lyrics are sweet and mournful, wistful and dark. And, oh, does One Foot in Eden linger!" --The Charlotte Observer

"Rash's characters have a heroic quality as they struggle to fill the empty spaces in their hearts. They also have a poetic intensity." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"One Foot In Eden is a story of wild, almost primitive force and yet it is neatly and ingeniously put together. Ron Rash knows to the core the ways of those who yearn for what is just beyond their grasp. Here is a lasting experience."
-Fred Chappell, Poet Laureate of North Carolina

"Ron Rash writes like a prince!"
-Pat Conroy

"One Foot in Eden is a forceful but never forced narrative. Rash moves his tragedy along with great authority, revealing motives that build to the complexity of each character as well as our fascination with them and the outcome of their lives. It is a finely polished novel."
-The Columbia State

"If you are a fan of writers such as Robert Morgan, Lee Smith and Fred Chappell, you'll be pleased to know they liked this novel and wrote glowing jacket notes. And no wonder: One Foot In Eden could have been written by any of these authors....Save yourself a nice stretch of time for this book. Once you start it, you will find it extremely hard to put down."
-The Anderson Independent

"In this fine, passionate work, Rash combines a murder mystery with the occasion of the flooding of a South Carolina Appalachian valley by Carolina power. The story of One Foot In Eden is simple, elemental. The conclusion has the force and inevitability of real tragedy...a tragedy that occurs in the ancient, brooding mountains of the Southern Appalachians."
-Don Noble, Alabama Public Radio

More About the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chrmistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O.Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Each character in turn advances the story as well.
Robert Busko
The dialect is spot on, the prose are beautiful and haunting, but the best part of this book is the way Ron Rash presents it to us.
S. L. Parker
Each character tells his/her part of the story so well and so differently and from their own point of view.
Pamela A. Poddany

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on December 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have read hundreds of books. It seems that over time one becomes difficult to please because we've seen everything before. Similar plots, characters and settings leave us wanting and feeling unfulfilled. Not with Rash's One Foot in Eden. This book delivers. Suspenseful story, wonderful, rich characters, twisting plot, and a great location.
The story is told by the main characters, each taking their place on center stage and relating the story through their eyes. But they don't tell the same story. The story changes in new hues and tints as each character puts a new and different interpretation on the tale. Each character in turn advances the story as well. What a great way to tell a story.
And by the way, the ending is fitting and makes you want to pick up another Rash story....but there arent any.......YET.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ron Rash is one of North Carolina's finest poets. Set in the Jocassee Valley in the southern Appalachians, One Foot in Eden is a taut, compelling story of infidelity and revenge killing that has the feel of archetypal mountain legend, a sort of "Lord Randall" updated by a psychological realist. A nifty and quite cunning murder mystery plot is parceled out to readers, Roshomon-style, from the cross-angled, and occasionally contradictory, first-person testimonies of the major players: the high sheriff, who knows murder has been done and who has done it, but can't find a body; the murderer himself; the adulterous wife for whom he kills; the bastard son of the illicit union; the deputy, a sort of Everyman, who serves as the reader's proxy and comes on, like Horatio in Act V, to wonder over the principals' unraveled fates. (There's also a witch!) For me, in some ways, the most compelling character is the Appalachian landscape, which Rash delivers tersely, with a poet's exacting eye and speech. Ultimately, One Foot in Eden is a parable about the pursuit of justice-its elusiveness at the human level, its certainty from the divine. True statement: I read the book-which is only 200 pages-- in a single sitting and couldn't (didn't) put it down.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tim Peeler on December 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rash proves to be as sure-footed with prose as he is with his poetry. In fact, EDEN does not have the feel of a first novel. Into the mix the writer pours ghostly imagery, mystery, indirect old testament allusions and the great themes of loyalty and moral retribution.
The setting is as startlingly real as in Rash's poems of Apalachia. The characters and language are authentic, and the author manages to nail all five of the narrative voices that reveal each layer of the story.
ONE FOOT IN EDEN is a fine accomplishment by a man who has already established himself in another genre. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Fercho on January 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's always a pleasure to discover a first novel with such depth and promise. Author Ron Rash does not disappoint with this lyrical Southern Gothic murder mystery that is so much more than a crime story. Told through the changing voices of the main characters this novel is rich with passion, tragedy and redemption. It's also a fine mystery that will keep you guessing throughout, as things are rarely as they first appear in this story. Ultimately, the truths of the dead will return to avenge the lies of the living. Worth seeking out. 4.5 stars.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ron Rash has written a beautifully told story about desire, heartbreak, cunning, murder and justice. He's done it in simple language and in a riviting style. Broken into 5 sections, each character tells the story from their own perspective. Ron lays out each section in such as a way that the story never becomes repetitive and the book is riviting. The Apalachian language with colloquialisms is delightful, making me want to read lines over again for their color and style, as well as content.
I hope Ron Rash is currently working on a second novel because I will be looking for it every day until I can purchase it!
I gladly give this book a 5 star rating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that when you finish the last page, you get a chill down your spine. It was an incredible story about the lengths one woman and her husband would go to to have a child, and to try and cover up the secrets of the past, much like their beloved farm would soon be covered by water.

I'm not going to summarize this book as it's been done here already, but I definitely, definitely recommend it. Mr. Rash has a way of telling this story that makes you feel like your right there in the Appalachia's. And the ending, when the Deputy is out on the lake, looking down into the crystal clear water, I felt like I myself was seeing everything he saw...and I was just as creeped out as he was by it.

You can't help but love a book that stirs up so many different feelings when reading it, and that's just what this one does. I've put Mr. Rash's second novel 'Saints at the River' on my wish list, and won't let it sit there nearly as long as this book did. I'm just so glad I finally read this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cherie Clark on December 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how to describe this book without giving away too much of the plot. It's a murder mystery, told through the words of several storytellers. Each one knows only what he or she has experienced personally, and each expands the narrative until the reader finally knows exactly what happened, and more importantly, WHY it happened. I read this in nearly one sitting, starting one night until I fell asleep, and finishing the rest the next day...partially by candlelight during the power outage after the recent ice storm here in NC. The characters are wonderful and so real, I feel like I know them and I never questioned their choices. Ron Rash has created a true tragedy, where the behavior of each person is logical and their resultant suffering is inevitable. I can't wait until he writes another book.
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