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Eden Close Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Eden Close.
This section contains 834 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Eden Close Summary & Study Guide Description

Eden Close Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Eden Close by Anita Shreve.

Eden Close is the first novel by acclaimed romance author, Anita Shreve. In this novel, Andrew returns to his childhood home to bury his mother and prepare the house for sale. The more time Andrew spends in this home he has rarely visited in nineteen years, the more memories of his childhood flood his mind. Many of these memories center on Eden Close, his childhood friend and neighbor. Eden was blinded the summer Andrew left for college in a home invasion that resulted in the death of her father. However, the more Andrew remembers about this fateful night and the year leading up to it, the more he realizes the truth about that night has never been revealed. Eden Close is a story of one woman's tragic childhood and the man who has loved her all his life.

Andrew is attempting to sleep the night after his mother's funeral, but being in his childhood bedroom has brought back nightmares of a night he had though he had forgotten. The night was hot and humid, much like this one, when Andrew heard screams from the house next door. Andrew stood in the yard with his mother as they brought Eden, his friend, out of the house, her head wrapped in a bloodied towel. Andrew's father came out of the house a few minutes later and told them Jim Close, Eden's father, was dead. Someone had broken into the house and was raping Eden when Jim walked in on it. The intruder shot Jim and ran away, disappearing into the night.

Andrew recalls asking about Eden a few times on his rare visits home. However, Andrew's life moved in other directions. Andrew married, had a son, and is now separated. Asking about Eden in front of his wife had always seemed wrong, so eventually he stopped asking. Andrew believes, however, that Eden never left his thoughts. Over the next few days, as he works at fixing up the house for sale, Andrew begins to recall everything about Eden. Andrew remembers being in the garden behind his house when Edith came to his mother with a small bundle in her arms. It was an infant, abandoned by the road.

Andrew remembers how Jim Close was excited by the baby, determined to keep it despite his wife's apathy. Jim spoiled Eden, buying her anything she wanted and lavishing all his attention on her. At the same time, Edith, his wife, ignored the child until her cries were unavoidable. Edith and Eden never had a good relationship. Through the years, they could often be heard screaming at one another, fighting over some unforgivable act.

When Andrew was fourteen and Eden eleven, she began hanging out with him and his friends. Andrew recalls how his friends resented her at first, but came to accept her constant presence. It was three years of happiness as far as Andrew was concerned, afternoons playing hockey or swimming, and evenings eating ice cream in the yard. However, it all came to a crushing end the summer Eden turned thirteen. Eden got her first menstrual period and stopped coming around, preferring to spend her afternoons getting a tan.

When school began again, rumors circulated that Eden was promiscuous, willing to share her body with any boy asking. Eden began dating Sean that year too, one of Andrew's closest friends. Andrew was jealous, unsure why, and became angry whenever someone would speak openly about Eden's behavior. Then that night happened and Andrew went away, losing touch of Eden for good.

Andrew is back now, and these memories draw him to the house next door. Andrew begins visiting Eden, waiting until Edith goes to work and careful to leave before she returns. Andrew takes Eden to the old pond where they once played hockey and swam. They make love for the first time, fulfilling a fantasy Andrew has held onto for nineteen years. Andrew is frightened, however, aware of how vulnerable Eden is and the impact of what he has done and will do might affect her. Andrew thinks of leaving, but is unable to let Eden go.

Andrew continues to see Eden, lavishing her with gifts and indulging in constant expressions of affection. However, as time passes, Andrew becomes more aware of the outside world and his need to return to it. Andrew asks Eden to go with him, but she refuses. Andrew pushes her, finally getting her to admit to the sexual abuse her father perpetrated on her as a child. As they discuss the past, Edith walks in on them and attempts to shoot Eden with a shotgun. It is then that Andrew finally realizes what really happened the night Jim died. It was Edith's jealousy. Edith shot Jim and wounded Eden in an attempt to kill Eden for taking her husband's affections away. Edith is placed in a mental institute and Eden agrees to leave with Andrew, excited to begin a new life outside the barriers of her secrets.

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