One Foot in Eden is the story of a single, heinous murder and its ramifications on several interconnected lives. Don’t let the beginning fool you, it’s really not a traditional crime novel; it’s a simpler story. It’s less about the event than what it means to each character. It’s also very much a novel about Place—the part of the South Carolina Upstate people used to call the Dark Corner, specifically the cove flooded to create Lake Jocassee.
One Foot in Eden is a story of the difficulty of close human interactions, the durability of sin, and the Taking of Appalachia (a theme Rash revisits in Serena). The book is told in first person from several POVs, Rashomon-style, with each POV adding a piece to the puzzle, seeing the story in a slightly different light than the rest, and progressing the story just a bit further. Rather than rotate POVs, each POV is only used once.
It’s masterful work by Rash. He captures the language of Southern Appalachia perfectly (and without resorting to apostrophe-laden dialogue). The metaphors are endless and endlessly evocative. Rash’s latter novel Serena was better received and got more attention, but One Foot in Eden is a better window into the souls of the people of Appalachia, in my mind in no small part because it is not told from the POV of people who hate and look down upon them.
5 of 5 Stars.
Nicholas Thomas at Curled Up With A Good Book – review.
Wayne Greenhaw at Southern Scribe – review.
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