Click here to read reviewer Deborah Straw's take on Invisible Eden.
In Maria Flook’s Invisible Eden, the author exhibits a superior quality of writing from the first chapter. Flook isn't just reporting the facts of the murder of Christa Worthington; she is immersing herself in the life of a single mother, like herself, who lived not far away from Flook's own home.
The 2002 murder remains unsolved. The crime occurred on the desolate dunes of Truro, a Cape Cod town best remembered as the setting for Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, where nature rules in primeval chaos, a suggestion of impermanence for the island inhabitants. Perhaps the wildness of the locale contributed to the act; certainly passion at the edge of the world informed the senses of those involved in Christa’s romantic dramas and inability to find purchase in a life spinning out of control. Neither is there a paucity of possible perpetrators, a cast of the usual suspects: the men in Christa’s life, father included, the wife of baby Ava’s father, his daughter, son and son-in-law.
From a wealthy but dysfunctional family with some history in the region, Christa's life was not made easier by wealth. As a New York fashion writer, the clever young woman moved in the esoteric circles of the fashion world, the rarified if plastic life of image versus reality. Not the kind of career to fulfill an already confused existence, especially for a Vassar graduate of the 70's.
Like the other women in her family, Christa had eclectic taste in men. Sadly, Christa gave birth soon after the death of her mother, abandoned by Ava’s father, a married man of Portuguese descent early in the pregnancy. The loss of her mother must have been exceptionally difficult for the pregnant Christa, holding vigil at the bedside of a critical, unhappy woman who had not done a good job of parenting the lonely, brilliant Christa. Neither Christa nor her mother was ever accepted by the Worthington clan, an iconoclastic group who wrote their own rules. But without doubt, Christa's most significant accomplishment was the birth of her daughter, Ava, the beautiful child Christa’s work-in-progress.
Christa is not just another of society’s rejects, a single mother living in bewilderment, forging her own path and losing her way in emotional entanglements. Her home as chaotic as her emotions, it is obvious that Christa was struggling, little Ava the only tangible asset to her damaged and abandoned psyche. One day Christa’s daughter will need to make sense of this brutal loss, and Invisible Eden may be a resource for unraveling the facts surrounding the senseless murder of Christa Worthington.
I am left with the impression of a compassionate, honest appraisal of facts garnered from extensive resources, friends, classmates and former business associates. Christa was a woman beset with the fears and insecurities of her childhood, never safe, always moving, even self-sabotaging. How shocking to realize that Christa was right.