Nonfictionist Shreve (Remaking Motherhood, 1987) tries her capable hand at a first novel that turns rural gothic horrors into a story of fine, high love. Andrew is 37, successful, and divorced when his mother's unexpected death makes him sole family survivor and brings him back from New York City to the lonely rural farmhouse where he was born and raised. Ostensibly at ""home"" to sort through his mother's effects and make arrangements to sell the farmhouse, Andrew instead finds himself remembering all over again the horrible event 19 years before, when on a hot summer night his next-door neighbor and childhood playmate, the then-14-year-old Eden Close, was raped in her farmhouse bedroom, her father shot dead by the fleeing rapist, and the sexually tantalizing and life-idled Eden herself permanently blinded by stray buckshot. Andrew hasn't seen Eden since that cataclysmic night just before he himself left for college, but now he calls on her, finds that she's being kept virtually as an invalid and prisoner by her secretive and very strange mother, and finds his never-admitted adolescent love for the pale Eden overwhelming him now as an adult. In beautifully rendered scenes (including trips to a childhood swimming hole that's got a special meaning) only occasionally marred by an overreaching for symbols, Andrew gradually draws the hesitant and reclusive Eden out again into life (always behind her rigidly disapproving mother's back), and, before the sweetness of the couple's love can find promise of permanence, there will be new questions about both Eden's and Andrew's parents; fresh doubts about what really happened on that tragic night long ago; and a climax that will hideously repeat history, explain all, and put you on the edge of your chair. Ghost-in-the-closet formula given new life, especially in Shreve's fine handling of the lovable, reemerging Eden. Andrew, too, is as good a guy as they come, and one roots for these two all the way in their almost-doomed love. A compelling page-turner that, by end, is also brimful of goodness.