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Edge of Eden Paperback – November 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Benedict (The Lonely Soldier) chronicles a year in the life of a foolish but surprisingly sympathetic British family that relocates to the equatorial paradise of the Seychelles, located between India and Africa. In 1960, Rupert Weston accepts a post in the remote British colony without consulting his wife, Penelope, and his decision isn't well received. Trying to adjust to life on the island chain, Penelope turns to Marguerite, the family's kind and trustworthy local servant, for help with daughters Zara and Chloe. She soon realizes that the Seychelles are a dumping ground for incipient failures and their wives, who turn to alcohol and adultery for entertainment. Weak, malleable Rupert is soon seduced by the cunning Creole Joelle Lagrenade, but Penelope won't give up her husband without a fight. As the children run feral, Penelope asks Marguerite to show her grigri, Seychelles magic. She consults local witchdoctor Monsieur Adonis, while Joelle turns to Madame Hélène, a fortuneteller, and their combined magical efforts culminate in near tragedy and certain loss. An armchair traveler's delight, Benedict's novel is an amusingly poignant look at the British abroad in the spirit of Evelyn Waugh. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Not since Lord of the Flies has a novelist written with such perceptiveness about the potential for harm that lurks within the innocence of childhood.”—Paula Sharp, author of Crows over a Wheatfield
"A wonderful novel and a true page-turner, a vivid story."—Joan Silber, author of The Size of the World
“Reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh in its biting satire and Somerset Maugham. . . . A book that both moved and surprised me until the very last word.”—Mary Morris, author of Revenge
“An armchair traveler's delight, Benedict's novel is an amusingly poignant look at the British abroad in the spirit of Evelyn Waugh.”—Publishers Weekly
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Top customer reviews
Upon reaching their destination, Penelope feels like an outsider even with her family, but not with the Colonial Governor. Her children take to the island "paradise" as if they lived there all their lives. Rupert focuses more on his native secretary Joelle instead of the economics report he is to develop or his family. When the marriage collapses, Zara turns to the local witch doctors for a love spell to reunite her family while now pregnant Joelle turns to the same grigri magical practitioners to send Penelope back to England without her Rupert. Desperate to save her marriage and family, Penelope also pleads with the black magical users for help.
This is an intriguing historical thriller that readers will enjoy though wonder what the three females see in Rupert, which is one of their two constants (the other being each turns to grigri), as the women's inspirational muses seem to change with each calamity. The story line is fast-paced while also hyperbolizing satire to make a point about clashing civilizations. THE EDGE OF EDEN is an engaging psychological suspense tale as the audience wonders who will be the last female standing on the Seychelles and will Rupert be at her side.
The dark-skinned, impish Zara sees everything as an adventure, shadowing the servants, learning about island superstitions and grigri, concocting her own spells. Benedict tracks the fault line through this family with stunning clarity in the children's behavior, Zara's fascination with spells and her penchant for torturing Chloe, the sweet child with dimples and blonde curls who has already fallen through the cracks of her parent's attention. Zara is increasingly worried about the "devil worm" that has taken over Penelope's personality, so worried about her mother that she fails to notice that her father comes home less and less frequently. This is a place where spells make powerful magic, where lovers can be bound to one another and straying husbands returned, Rupert's secretary, Joelle, already actively seducing him away from Penelope, determined to replace his worthless wife. And why not? Joelle deserves the luxuries Penelope enjoys.
The landscape is ominous, lush with beauty and tragic history, filled with superstition and the natives' distrust of the English, deeply religious yet unshakably devoted to arcane superstitions for protection from evil. The Weston's have no chance, each adult absorbed in his own needs, Zara frantically gathering information for powerful spells to control her environment. It is not surprising, then, when an innocent becomes the victim of the jealousy of women, when potent medicine falls into the wrong hands and the foolishness of adults comes crashing down in tragedy. Benedict describes it all, from the brewing antagonism between husband and wife to the jealousy of Rupert's lover to the carelessness of a nanny who has a new man on her mind and no eyes for the children in her care. On the islands, rules are lax, passion triumphs over logic and innocents are lost along the way. Paradise is bountiful and fecund, noisy with the demands of its inhabitants. Moments slide by, opportunities missed, loved ones lost as paradise claims its price. Luan Gaines/ 2009.