cover image Eden Close

Eden Close

Anita Shreve. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $17.95 (265pp) ISBN 978-0-15-127582-3

In her notable fiction debut (her most recent nonfiction book is Women Together, Women Alone ) Shreve sensitively explores the coming-of-age and later redemption of her hero, events separated by nearly 20 years. A recently divorced New York advertising executive in his mid-30s, Andrew returns to the home of his youth in upstate New York to bury his widowed mother. In the dilapidated house next door live Eden Close and her mother Edith. The novel opens with Andrew dreaming of the night he was awakened by screams from the Closes' house, an incident well remembered: ``The man next door was murdered when I was seventeen. His daughter was raped.'' Blinded by the same gun that killed her father, Eden endures an hermetic existence, zealously guarded by her mother. She and Andrew had been best friends before puberty complicated their relationship, and now Andrew, looking to the past for clues to his future, reconnects with Eden. Readers will have guessed the secret of Eden and her mother long before the story's putative climax, when it is revealed to Andrew and others. Shreve's evocative prose and elegiac voice, and her faithful attention to her likable hero's emotions render him believable and give this romance a weight superior to most in the genre. Film rights to Disney/Hollywood Pictures. (Aug.)