Some Other Eden tells the story of Isla, a wife and mother of two small children who lives in London. She is largely responsible for her elderly grandmother Bella who lives alone in a large house in the countryside called Marshwood. When the old house suffers a burglary and Bella is badly shaken, Isla feels that she has no choice but to rush to her aid, must to the disdain of her husband Richard who resents the time she spends there and that he has to subsidise the upkeep of the house.
On arriving at Marshwood she finds the house to not only be in disrepair but Bella to be in a very plaintive mood. She tells Isla that she wants to relay her memoirs to her - particularly those relating to her meeting Isla's grandfather Clement, the original owner of the house and a young French soldier who has an indelible impact on their lives during the first world war. Against this backdrop and Isla's frequent return visits to Marshwood - she finds her marriage coming under increasing strain, not least due to the remergence of an old flame Jack who has his own tragic story to tell.
First off, this is certainly an enjoyable read. The rolling out of the plot, though largely predictable zips along quickly enough and for the most part really sustains the interest. It is well described, lapsing almost into a dreamlike state for some of the descriptions of the house and rural settings, and also contains some surprisingly raunchy love scenes.
However, the major flaw of the book is that despite requiring a great deal of investment from the reader in the characters - these themselves are only really very thinly sketched - most notably and disappointingly that of Isla who does not really develop further than being that of a frustrated housewife caricature. It is not badly written for the most part but it would certainly be a more engaging read if the reader could really get under the skin of the characters and participate in, rather than be a detached observer to the protagonists .
It loses its way somewhat during the final third of the book, lacking some of the pace of the earlier parts of the book and without the human interest needed to sustain it , it gets a bit tiresome. The ending is neat, however, and satisfactory given the unravelling nature of the book.
It is also worth noting that this book was selected as part of the Tesco Book Club selection so certain editions will have a section at the end especially written by the author for this purpose in which she discusses the protagonists
In conclusion, I would most likely recommend this as a good read if you would like to read a book that you can get through quite quickly, but that has a little bit of plot to keep you entertained but will ultimately not trouble your memory too much in a few weeks time.