The biblical narrative of earth’s beginning has always been a compelling one. Whether you believe in a literal Garden of Eden, home to Adam and Eve, a snake, and that darned fruit beckoning so sensuously from the Tree of Life, or think it all belongs in the realm of metaphor and myth, you’ll be drawn in by the novel Eve: A Novel. Elissa Elliot’s lyrical re-telling of the first story is a complex, multi-perspective glimpse into the lives of Adam and Eve spanning from Creation to the murder of Abel. Reminiscent of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Elliot’s Eve is haunting, richly imagined, and calls into question the Sunday school version of the creation story.
The story is woven through the points-of-view of Eve and her daughters’ Naava, Aya, and Dara. The relational and intimate tone allows Elliot to paint a picture of Eve as wife and mother, nomad, sometime idol-worshipper, abandoned one, and more often than not, mourner. Lucifer’s seduction of Eve is a particularly provocative telling, and raises a number of interesting theological conundrums.
There are also some poignant scenes between Elohim, creator God, and his wayward children. The image of Elohim killing the lamb that is to provide a fallen Adam and Eve a covering for their nakedness is as disturbing as it is beautiful. The idée fixe of Eve is one of longing, and as we witness Eve grapple with being expelled from her first home, Elohim’s seeming absence, the growing conflicts between her children, and the reality of eventual death, we can’t help but recognize her pain and her triumphs as our own. Ultimately, Eve’s appeal is its unflinching portrait of humanity that is infused with much needed grace.