Desert Isle Keeper
A Season In Eden
A Season In Eden is the type of book that I normally avoid at all costs. I’m not a big fan of heartache and grief-filled stories and never read one if I can avoid it. I steer clear of mainstream “women’s fiction” for exactly this reason. Reality surrounds me and if I want a good cry all I have to do is watch the news. The review copy of A Season In Eden sneaked by my “reality” sensors with its plain red cover and it’s lack of a blurb. For some reason, I ignorantly assumed it would be another wild and woolly western. After I completed the first page I knew I was in trouble deep but there was no way I could stop myself from turning the pages. I ended up finishing the book in one tear-blurred sitting.
Lora Cameron’s dreams were simple. All she ever wanted out of life was a loving man to spend her life with and lots of children to love. For a short while it seemed like all of her dreams were coming true. She met Eli at the tender age of sixteen and they fell deeply in love, married and began to build a home on a claim of land. After just three short years of bliss, tragedy struck their happy home and an unending series of hardships caused Lora to withdraw from Eli and from life. By the time Lora was 20, she felt used up and hated the land that once had held so much promise and hope.
Eli, heartsick with the knowledge that he has failed Lora, and deeply in debt, takes an opportunity to join a logging crew miles from home to make life easier for her. He believes with space and time she will miss him and be better able to heal. He leaves her with a seventeen year old hired hand named Will.
Will is the catalyst that brings about a change in Lora. He is unlike anyone Lora has ever met; he is optimistic and filled with dreams, despite all of the hard luck he’s witnessed. Lora resents Will’s intrusion into her life, her silence and her much needed isolation. She spends every waking hour working because if she’s busy, she can’t think, and if she can’t think, she can’t remember and hurt. Will shakes her out of her stupor with his sweetness and gentle prodding, slowly awakening that closed place in her heart.
You’re probably thinking that Will and Lora become lovers, and that Eli turns evil, conveniently dies, and leaves Will and Lora free to live out a happily ever after. Nah, that would have been easy and would’ve made me hurl this book toward the closest wall. Instead, the author takes another, much more painful, but ultimately more satisfying route. With agonizing slowness she takes the reader into the darkest regions of Lora’s shattered heart, and gradually explores the painful process of her healing, eventually rewarding us with the satisfying rebirth of Eli and Lora’s love.
Although as strong a love story as any I’ve read, this is Lora’s story. Written in first person, with deceptively simple and affecting prose, all of the characters are seen through Lora’s eyes. Initially she comes across as cold and a little self-centered in her grief, but it’s soon revealed that her detachment is only a barrier she’s erected to protect herself. Lora feels too deeply, has always loved too strongly, and simply cannot deal with the rotten hand that life has dealt her. The majority of the book is spent watching her gain the strength to face the tragedy that numbed her, and seeing her grow as a strong, independent woman.
An almost overwhelming sense of sadness permeates this story, and it is not a book you’ll read with a huge grin on your face. There are few smiles to be had and no witty banter that I could remember. There is little relief from the bleakness and realism (oh, that ugly word again!) but it only makes the hard earned HEA ending all the more satisfying and believable.
Somehow I managed to crawl out of bed this morning after only four hours of sleep, with puffy eyes, and an extra heaviness in my heart for having read A Season In Eden, but it was worth it. I forget most books soon after I’ve finished reading them, but it’s doubtful I’ll ever forget these people and the quiet lessons in love author Chance so beautifully wove into her story.