Adam & Eve: Book summary and reviews of Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund

Adam & Eve

A Novel

By Sena Jeter Naslund

Adam & Eve
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2010,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with an audacious and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve.

Hours before his untimely - and highly suspicious - death, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn of - or accept - proof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work.

Devastated by Thom's death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom's friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions ... and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it.

Midway through the daring journey, Lucy's small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy's wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries.

Set against the searing debate between evolutionists and creationists, Adam & Eve expands the definition of a "sacred book," and suggests that true madness lies in wars and violence fueled by all religious literalism and intolerance.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"To describe the elements of this ambitious novel is to sound unhinged, but Naslund pulls it off. This thriller is rich in brilliant discourses on religion, fanaticism, the meaning of ancient cave art, the speculative future, and love." - Library Journal

"Naslund (Ahab's Wife) delivers a cheesy blend of futuristic thriller, pseudoreligious speculation, and idyllic romance...It's embarrassingly bad in every way," - Publishers Weekly

"For the first half of the novel, there may be reluctance to suspend disbelief in the incredible events that unfold. Eventually, however, many will find the metaphorical loftiness engaging." - Booklist

"The story of the story of Genesis, and a love story reminiscent of Joan Crawford's worst movies are, uh, juxtaposed, in this very earnest sixth novel from the industrious Kentucky author." - Kirkus

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by chetyarbrough.com
Belief
Sena Naslund’s writing skill is beautifully displayed in “Adam & Eve” but the story stretches suspended belief to a breaking point that makes the novel less than it could be.

Naslund re-invents arguments about the creation of man and the inherent conflict between science and religion. Character actions seem too hap hazard, bizarre and unbelievable to carry the weight of their meaning.

Arguments for religious and profane, sectarian beliefs are sometimes too obscure for a reader to clearly understand the author’s intent.

Even with these harsh criticisms, Naslund’s writing is a pleasure to read. There is enough suspense in “Adam & Eve” to compel a reader to complete the story.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Claire G. (Merrimack, NH)
Adam and Eve
I was looking forward to reading this book about the conflict between science and religion. There are some interesting ideas presented but I ultimately found it confusing and fragmented. It is an ambitious attempt to ponder the beginning of life and it's origins through an alternative narrative of the book of Genesis. I never fully appreciated the connection with that and the life in the garden of Eden with Adam and Lucy. I did enjoy the descriptive quality of the writing and the relationship between these two people. Somehow though I am left wanting for more but I'm not sure for what. I felt I just wasn't getting the message the author intended. All in all a very interesting novel. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Susan O. (Tiburon, CA)
A Different Look At Genesis
I found this book to be very absorbing, but at times difficult to follow both chronologically and geographically. Perhaps this would not have been a problem for a reader more intimately familiar with the Bible, however, the characters of this book were the ones I had difficulty tracking. Ms. Naslund's writing is very lyrical and paints vivid pictures which are a joy to read. I did develop a positive feeling for the characters and wanted to find out their thoughts and outcomes. She also offered opportunities for looking at the story through the philosophies of different religions without "taking sides". I think this book would offer great opportunities for discussion with book groups who have established an "open minded" attitude among their members. I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't among my favorites.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)
Get me out of here!
Sena Jeter Naslund's latest effort is a dreadful book: the plot is pretentious; most of the characters are unbearable. The author, in her elaborate scheme, promises wonders, but what she delivers is meager.

The character of Adam was especially maddening. It was sheer torture reading the sections about him and "Eve." I also got weary of references to the "memory stick," which somehow always survived. Coincidences abounded. I'm usually able to suspend my disbelief, but not to this extent.

The ending was not satisfying, although I was relieved to close the book at last.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
Adam and Eve
I have been struggling valiantly to read this book. Unfortunately, it seems that the review will not be in a timely manner. So here is what I am thinking. I love the word choices and sentence structure Naslund uses. Her descriptive passages show the reader the setting of the story. But, it is the story that gave me trouble. I did not like nor could identify with the characters. The mixture of fantasy and realism showed me little of science or faith. I was a Science teacher and really wanted to enjoy this book.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
Fiction as entertainment and education
Sena Jeter Naslund has created yet another wonderful combination of philosophy, history and magic. Like Ahab's Wife, Adam and Eve is compelling, informative and thought provoking. While I happen to agree with the philosophy that she proposes here (divinity lies within each of us, ego prevents understanding), Naslund also made me comprehend fanatacism to the point of sympathy for the first time. The knowledge she exhibits of many challenging topics such as astrophysics, ancient theology, mathematics and prehistoric cave art makes reading her work an opportunity to learn and think in addition to the entertainment value.

Accessible intellect and challenge are what she provides. I now know what boustrophedon means and what Gethsemane is - the tangents of looking up her references provide interest beyond simply reading her words. Her humor is all the better for its subtlety and tongue in cheek qualities. A few of my favorite lines: " 'Your exactness lacks precision, my friend' " and "Some of his smaller, weaker fingers were afraid, but his hand as a whole was confident."

Naslund uses many examples of the yin and yang that makes up all of us humans: past and present, past and future, dark and light, thick and thin, above and below, the immediate and the infinite. This is a great story which provokes thought on the part of the reader as entertaining and important as the story itself.

...14 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Sena Jeter Naslund Author Biography

Photo: Marion Ettlinger

Sena Jeter Naslund was born in Birmingham, Alabama; her mother taught music and her father, who died when she was 15, was a doctor; she has two older brothers.  In high school she played cello with the Alabama Pops Orchestra. She won a music scholarship to the University of Alabama but turned it down in favor of studying writing at Birmingham-Southern College, while she was there she attended the Breadloaf Writers' Conference - a two week series of lectures, workshops and classes (since 1926, the conference has been held annually at the Breadloaf Inn, Middlebury, Vermont and claims to be the oldest writers' conference in the USA). 

After graduating from Birmingham-Southern, she was accepted at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa where she ...

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