A Place Near Eden by Nell Pierce is a powerful mystery drama mixed with the intensity of relationships and finding your way to what is the truth.
Matilda Holman, or Tilly known by her family and friends, is adapting to life with her new foster
brother Sem. Her parents chose him to live with them which made him extra special to Tilly.
Sem was angry and would run away often, he would not go far but Tilly’s parents would worry
and stay out late looking for him. Sometimes he would return but other times they needed to
call the police to find him.
The family dynamics change, and Tilly’s parents separate. Tilly, her mum, and Seth moved to a
new house. There they meet Celeste who lives next door with her mum. A bit older than Tilly,
Celeste is full of confidence and speaks her mind.
Sem starts to date Celeste which Tilly doesn’t like as she has strong feelings toward him. Celeste easily manipulates and influences Tilly and knows she can get her to do what she wants.
When Tilly looks back on her teenage years she is afflicted by memories – Sem disappearing all
the time and someone taking him away, and Celeste causing arguments and telling her what to do.
But there were long days at the swimming pool, the three of them hanging out so there must
have been some good times amongst the bad.
Five years down the road Tilly moves to Melbourne with her mum and puts her childhood to
rest, tucking her memories away of Sem and Celeste. One night at a party Tilly runs into Celeste and the three of them reconnect.
Eventually, Celeste and Tilly move to the coast near Eden and share a house together, with Sem soon following.
The morning after a night at the pub, Tilly wakes up hungover with no recollection of the night.
Sem is gone for good and there has been a devastating accident but who is responsible? Tilly
as a narrator is unreliable, and this gives readers the freedom to make their own predictions. Is
Tilly’s story real, or has it been created by manipulation?
The layers are peeled back one by one and keep the reader engaged in the mystery. It makes
you feel like you’re witnessing something you shouldn’t be in the relationship between the three.
It is one of the most interesting, strange, and truly depressing relationships I’ve ever
Nell Pierce does an excellent job of portraying the complexity of friendship dynamics
complicated by the demands of family life and upbringing defined by expectations and needs.
The plot is engaging and paced with great skill, moving between Tilly’s past and future to
expertly keep the reader always engaged.
I closed the book knowing I had just read a great novel. This truly is a gripping friendship drama,
and one that I could not put down. I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin, for the opportunity to read and review.
Copy courtesy of publisher: Allen & Unwin
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading A Place Near Eden by Nell Pierce. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.