Winner of the 2002 Novello Literary Award and Foreword Magazine's Gold Medal in Literary Fiction, One Foot in Eden is a richly textured story of love and murder. One Foot in Eden unfolds through the distinctive voices of a small-town sheriff, a young married couple, and those who share their secrets.
Will Alexander knows there’s been a murder in this fertile corner of the Appalachian South, but he can’t find a body and no one’s talking, least of all Billy Holcombe and his pretty wife, Amy. For years, the mystery will go unsolved—until the day the power company forces everyone out and floods the valley and family farms where this close-knit community has lived and worked for generations.
Author Ron Rash has crafted a story of haunting beauty and primitive force, tempered by his deep affection for a region often misunderstood. One Foot in Eden is a tribute to a time, place, and way of life vanishing from the modern South.
“One Foot in Eden is a story of family secrets and family bonds, of legacies and intense loyalties . . . in prose that thrills like his poetry. I couldn’t put it down. He is one of our finest writers.”
Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
“One Foot in Eden is a classic tale of passion and tragedy. Each voice rings as true as the sound of an ax in the cold early morning air. I read this book straight through. I had to.”
Lee Smith, author of Fair and Tender Ladies
“Rash's moody, potent slice of Southern gothic fiction centers on a murder and its devastating effect on a small Appalachian town in the 1950s. When Holland Winchester, local troublemaker in tiny Seneca, S.C., vanishes without a trace, it's up to town sheriff and WWII veteran Will Alexander to search for answers. Holland's mother claims to have heard a gunshot, and she insists that neighbor Billy Holcombe killed her son. Events unfurl slowly and methodically, and it's soon revealed that Billy's pregnant wife, Amy, had been having an affair with Holland. Shifting from Sheriff Alexander's narration, the story continues in Amy's voice as she recounts her frustration with Billy's sterility and her increasingly desperate need to bear a child. An impulsive visit to a spell-weaving widow for advice proves to be Amy's downfall when she's told that if her husband can't give her a child, she should "lay down with a man who can." The ensuing drama of infidelity, jealousy and betrayal is told by a chorus of characters with distinctive Appalachian voices: chief among them are Amy, Billy and Amy's young son, Isaac, whose discovery of the identity of his real father is both heartbreaking and liberating. As the valley is flooded to make room for a power company's land takeover, further tragedies unfold. Poet and short story writer Rash writes lyrically while maintaining the suspense of the central mystery. As each character reveals his or her secrets, the tale builds into a quiet storm—and a terrific first novel.” Publishers Weekly