“The rarest of all treasures: A book that breaks your heart even as it makes your spirit soar. Just like life.”

Joan Anderson

Author, A Year by the Sea & A Second Journey


Leaving Eden is set in the small town of Eden, Virginia, where sixteen-year-old Tallie sweeps up cut hair at the Klip ‘N Kurl while plotting ways to get the attention of the local heart throb, taking care of her daddy, and considering how things might have been different if her mama, Dinah Mae, hadn’t left four years before.

As Tallie looks back to that summer of 1988 when she was searching for family secrets and a cure for her mama, her life is interrupted – The Glamour Company comes to Eden, seducing the townswomen with the promise of beauty and transformation.

Focused on the secrets, hopes and love that bind a mother and daughter, Leaving Eden shows the power of love and forgiveness to mend hearts shattered by death and broken dreams. By turns funny and tender, joyous and poignant, Leaving Eden is a novel of small-town Southern life – and what it means to be a mother, daughter, best friend and lover.


Stories can come at the most unexpected times and places. One spring I was in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, which is situated in a rural town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One day I went into town to get a haircut and saw a poster in the local beauty shop advertising a Glamour Day. “Honey, they make you look like a star,” the owner told me as she trimmed my hair.

I started thinking about the way Hollywood acts as a polestar in our culture, pulling us along in its wake, however much we deny its magnetism. Almost immediately I saw in my mind a young girl who would be Tallie, a teenager wanting to be transformed.

In the process of writing the book, I thought a lot about my nieces who were all young when their mother died. I know that witnessing the pain, confusion and significance of their experience helped me slip into Tallie’s skin.

I should add that – in the interest of research – I did sign up for Glamour Day, but truly I did not end up looking like a movie star. More like a female impersonator.

To order Leaving Eden, please click here.