It took author Linda Nichols a prologue and one chapter of In Search of Eden to convince me that Dorrie’s quest to find the baby she gave up for adoption 11 years earlier was one I shouldn’t miss. By the time the present-day part of the story opens in Minneapolis (Chapter 2), her journey has already taken her to Chicago, Montana, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Seattle. Clues finally lead her to Abingdon, Virginia.
There things don’t start well when she’s stopped by the resident cop as she drives into town. She eventually manages to find a job, a place to live (above the funeral home) and though more than once discouragement tempts her to give up her search and move on, she spends the summer. That is long enough to make a whole village of new friends and experience a grace that is both subtle and earth-shaking.
I found the characters in the book believable and interesting. I was sympathetic to main character Dorrie / Miranda (she changes her name partway through) from the beginning and she grew on me even more as the plot’s ups and downs tested her mettle. Eden, a spunky 11-year-old who loves all things western and mystery, was equally well done.
I’m usually also drawn to villains in a story. I thought I had found such a person in Noreen, Miranda’s mother, until near the end when she morphs from a Cruella DeVille into someone unexpectedly heroic. However, it was obviously Nichols’ intention to redeem her and all the other gray characters, as she makes clear in a ‘Dear Reader’ letter at book’s end: “I also hope we can all stop working so hard to make everything perfect, including ourselves, and instead love and be loved by the bumpy, imperfect people around us.”
I liked the way Nichols tells the story. I especially enjoyed the beginning when, without much introduction, she rolls out vignette after vignette involving the various characters. This placed a demand on me to splice the story strands together - something I found satisfying. Sub-plots are deftly woven in and out of the main plot. The whole thing added up to a lively and compelling read. The only plot bit that gave me mental whiplash, because of how far-fetched it felt, was the identity of Johnny Adair, revealed at the end of the book.