Invisible Eden
Maria Flook
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Buy *Invisible Eden* online

Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod
Maria Flook
Broadway Books
416 pages
June 2003
rated 2 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Invisible Eden.

Basing it somewhat on the style of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Maria Flook has a new nonfiction title -- Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod -- a true crime/memoir piece about the unsolved murder in 2002 of 46-year-old Christa Worthington. Worthington and Flook both lived in Truro, on Cape Cod, although the author did not know the doomed fashion writer.

The book is neither here nor there. It is not truly a memoir, nor solely about the killing. The book is about Flook almost as much as it is about Worthington. A lover of both mysteries and memoirs, I found almost none of the characters sympathetic, and I certainly wanted to.

Invisible Eden has just barely come out and is already raising quite a ruckus on the Cape's southern tip. Worthington came from old Cape money but had lived for years in New York, and later in both London and Paris. City weary, she returned to the Cape to a small family house a few years ago. As she entered her forties, her main goal in life was to have a child. She became a spokesperson for a group of women trying to have children without spouses or partners. She had a few boyfriends in Truro, notably Tony Jackett, a charismatic, married father, and Tim Arnold, a divorced father with physical disabilities. She became pregnant, gave birth and began to raise her child. When Ava was about two, someone murdered Christa in their home. Ava tried to revive her.

No one has yet been arrested, although there are several suspects, including Jackett and Arnold. A website in Worthington's memory, with her photograph (something this book did not have, sadly) asking for clues and offering a reward, is still online.

One of the difficulties of Invisible Eden is that Flook doesn't make Worthington out to be likeable; we simply don't care much for her. Between the lines, she comes across as a confused, lonely, poor little rich girl whose father set a terribly bad example for male/female relationships. Flook paints Worthington out to be promiscuous and sloppy, albeit a good fashion writer. Flook does also admit that the writer was a good mother, terribly attached to beautiful Ava, even if totally undisciplined with her.

Flook is always in the story, telling us about writing it and who she interviewed. She at times feels somewhat of a kindred spirit to her subject and carries on a mild flirtation with the Federal Assistant D.A. in the case, Michael O'Keefe. Flook has strong opinions about the towns of Truro and Provincetown, an area populated by "wannabe artists, dilettantes, losers, pirates and profiteers, eccentrics and misfits" as well as dwindling fishing and Portuguese communities. She loves to drop famous names and fills her readers in on a lot of history and culture of the area. These latter two things provide fun reading but seem a bit gratuitous.

However, perhaps the biggest disappointment is that one feels no real insight or wisdom here. Having just picked up an older memoir, Love and Other Infectious Diseases by Molly Haskell, I find so much wisdom -- about relationships and the reasons things seem to happen -- in the first 50 pages that I am entranced. This reflection does not come through in Flook's work. Invisible Eden is modern, gossipy and somewhat empty.

Flook, author of other memoirs and novels, has done an immense amount of homework, and Worthington's story remains quite fascinating, but the author is too much in the center of this story. Is Invisible Eden about Worthington or about Flook's clever retelling of Worthington's murder?

© 2003 by Deborah Straw for Curled Up With a Good Book

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