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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 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
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
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
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
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
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
on December 15, 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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had read Ron Rash's three books of poetry and found his work extraordinary before I learned that he had also ventured into fiction. Then I became aware of Mr. Rash's two short story collections. I read them and found that this man, whom I had thought to be pure poet, was capable of a lyrical, poetic prose that I found engaging. It had the "feel" of endurance about it. But when I read Mr. Rash's first novel, gulping it down almost in one sitting, I was absolutely convinced that a major talent had come among us. Ron Rash can easily take his place alongside any number of the older, more established, and, alas, even major, novelists of the American South. I await Rash's second novel with bated breath. But I hope he will not forsake poetry. We readers need him in both genres--poetry as well as fiction.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
*SPOILER ALERT*

I just can't get across how confused I am about the excessive praise for this book. It certainly wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it was by no means anywhere close to the best.

I'll start with the positives: The novel was told by several narrators which was one concept I really enjoyed. Each section (with the exception of the last one) flowed nicely together and each had vital importance to the story. The writing was also admirable, especially the parts describing the land, and the characters' dialect was realistic. Lastly, I liked the way the characters' thoughts came across because I could easily understand (again, excluding the last section) their individual actions.

Now the negatives: The negatives of this book mainly come within the last forth of it. By this point, I thought the characters had lost all of their voice and the writing all of its flavor. All of the suspense was over. We knew what Billy had done with Holland's body and we knew he got away with it. I wasn't surprised at all when Mrs. Winchester picked the moment right before the valley was flooded to tell Isaac about his father or even surprised when she engulfed herself in flames along with the house. I wouldn't call this a "murder mystery" as others have either. It wasn't a mystery at all. Billy was suspected from the beginning and it turned out to be him. We didn't know exactly what he did with the body at first, but we found out soon enough - only half way through the book. Unfortunately, this leaves us with plenty of room for a rather dull climax. Isaac, his parents, and the sheriff trying to dig up Holland's body before the valley is flooded. In which Isaac drops his real father's bag of bones in the river (which I actually kind of liked because I'd built up sympathy for Billy and Amy) only to watch his living father get swept under by the current and then see his mother die too. I get the whole "Old Testament flood washes away bad people" thing, but I didn't feel like his parents were truly bad people and it just felt unnecessary. Not to mention the last section of the novel, The Deputy. None of that even made SENSE. So Bobby drops the "witch's" body into the lake because he doesn't want her bones with his kin? What?!? Old Widow Glendower hadn't even been mentioned in a while so I hardly see how that was a relevant ending. The last line of the book was spot-on though: "This was a place for the lost." Uh, yeah. I'm definitely lost.

Rating: 2.5 stars.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Set in the Appalachian South, One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash is a dark and powerfully written novel of love, secrets, and murder. An unsolved killing remains covered up for years until one day the power company forces people off their land and floods their farms. Terrible hidden motives beneath a closely bound rural community pervade this fascinating and engaging literary study showcasing the turns and twists of human nature.
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