Improbable Eden

Written by Mary Daheim
Review by Caroline Wilson

Set in the late 17th century in the court of William III of England, Improbable Eden is the story of Eden Berenger and her race to save the father she never knew. Raised an orphan by a very God-fearing and somewhat cruel French Huguenot family, Eden is approached by the Duke of Marlborough on her 18th birthday. The Duke finally divulges that he is her father and implores her to help him clear his name with the king, who thinks he is a traitor. Before Eden can make her decision, she is swept up in the political conspiracy surrounding the Duke as he is arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. With the help of her father’s loyal companion, Max, Eden must learn how to seduce King William in order to free the Duke.

Improbable Eden is a re-issue of the original 1991 novel by author Mary Daheim. While the time period is fascinating and often overlooked, the novel is very old fashioned. The concept is a bit far-fetched as well; retrieving a long lost daughter to turn her into a courtesan will most likely not sit well with modern audiences. But the novel is somewhere between Pygmalion and Pretty Woman to some extent, which will appeal to some readers. Overall the pacing is quick, and while the historical detail is not always there, this novel could prove an antidote to those dull winter evenings.