The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy
|The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy|
|Genre: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Susmita Chatto|
|Summary: Family secrets are carried through generations, adding to the burden each time.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 512||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Much as I hate to appear to be on the fence about this book – I’m on the fence about this book!
All the seeds of a great saga appear to be present - strong characters, an engaging setting in the form of Aurelia, the family farm, and an inciting incident early on. All this is backed up with some superb description in the early part of the novel, with the period and the handful of characters we meet at the start all being carefully drawn.
However, while Davy clearly has the skills to write a great novel, they were mixed in with some problems in this book. The main issue is that every major incident is signposted with the narrator telling you that something major is about to occur. It is therefore inevitable that whatever it is will struggle to rise to that level of build-up. This is a tactic Davy employs a few times throughout the book. As a result, the only truly surprising incident is the one that has only had a few subtle pointers marking it out.
It's almost as if Davy didn't have enough confidence in herself or in her reader to simply tell the story. With her storytelling skills, showcased as they are in many sections of the story, this is a great shame; when she goes along unhindered by explanation, the novel becomes utterly gripping.
As sagas go, it is rather complicated; the cast of characters is vast and Davy tries to remind us of who's who by interspersing references to their name and their relationship to the narrator, Meredith. However, this gets frustrating after a while as it spoils the flow of some otherwise excellent prose and it might have been easier to simply stick with the old-fashioned tactic of placing a family tree in the front of the novel, thus giving the reader the option to look up anything they might have forgotten.
The story does flow nicely otherwise. Largely based around the female family members residing on the farm, generations show the effect that the family habits as well as the genealogy has had upon them.
There are hints that Davy couldn't decide what writing style to adopt for what situation. The best of the work is when she sticks to one style and undertakes more showing than telling; the worst of it is when she mixes styles and at one point even says that things are about to get confusing. The novel would have benefitted from Davy making it clearer rather than simply explaining that it gets complicated.
The novel shows great potential and really all that was needed was more clarity and fewer indications to the reader of what type of incident may be about to occur. Additionally, Aurelia needed to feature more heavily than it did. As the title talks of the “legacy” of the family home, I expected to hear more about it, and indeed become attached to it.
Overall, it is an enjoyable read with strong characters and enough drama to keep the reader turning the page.
If this book appealed then you might enjoy The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies
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