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.
William Y. (Lynchburg, VA)
Adam and Eve, a novel by Sena Jeter Naslund
"Audacious" might well serve as a descriptive word for Sena Jeter Naslund's latest novel, "Adam and Eve". Author of 1999's celebrated "Ahab's Wife", Naslund goes far afield in this effort, setting it in the near future, a time of conflict between followers of science and believers in biblical inerrancy. As the title suggests, the tale provides a challenging contemporary spin on Genesis, with Adam and Eve (now called Lucy Bergmann--a play on "Lucy" of archaeological fame) dwelling in an Eden somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Rich prose and several excellent set pieces make the book a page-turner, and the theological and political implications are cause for reflection. It may be difficult for some readers to suspend disbelief, but book clubs will find much to discuss about both the characters and what they represent in today's world of religious rivalry and discord.
[Editor's note: Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is considered accurate and totally free of error.]
Mary R. (Eagan, Minnesota)
Adam and Eve
"Adam and Eve" is multi-layered book that is brilliant in its scope and imagination. This book will definitely appeal to literature geeks – English majors, college professors and other bibliophiles. The references to other writers, poets, artists and composers is endless – from “Alice in Wonderland” on the first page, to van Gogh, Mozart, and on through to Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” at the end. It was like meeting old friends as I read this new book.
This is a book that will provide wonderful discussions for book clubs. The connections between the Eden of the Bible and the Eden in the story, the name of the main character – Eve/Lucy – the religious and scientific names for the “first” woman in the world, the lengths that the religious zealots would go to destroy evidence that threatens their beliefs are just a few topics for discussion. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time – it is not an easy read, but it is a fascinating read!
Rebecca G. (havertown, pa)
An Abundance of Faith
In Sena Jeter Naslund’s beautifully written novel, "Adam & Eve", Lucy Bergmann finds herself facing worlds and dilemmas of extreme opposites. After the death of her husband, she unwillingly becomes the carrier of two secrets that threaten the core of three major religions. She lives in a world of never-ending war, but crashes into an oasis. It’s a breathtaking world, a real Eden where she meets Adam, a man with a fragile mind, victimized by brutal violence whose faith in God is iron.
This is a book about faith; faith in God, love and humanity. In our world of science and war and violence its difficult sometimes to hold on to belief in a God; yet Naslund suggests that its in these times that we need faith most. A book of memorable characters and an uplifting message, it challenged me to look at my own faith and beliefs and how well they stand up to threats of the modern world and science and whether they would hold steady in the face of crisis. Another outstanding book by Sena Jeter Naslund.
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.
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.
Soosi D. (Shelton, Washington)
Adam and Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
Adam and Eve is an industrious literary effort. Set in 2019, it is filled with a myriad of contrasting images, concepts, and plot lines. I found myself reading this book with a yellow marker in one hand and a pen in the other. I was compelled to underline sentences I wanted to re-read or think about and places that I wanted to comment on, right in the text! I was struck by the repetition of images/symbols, repeating themes of contrasting ideologies ( varying Creation stories, science versus art, literal versus figurative). I am eager to discuss this book with others, chapter by chapter, to get the most from it. I was reminded of Lessing’s "The Cleft" and Yann Martel's "Life of Pi"; there were times I was unsure whether it was a fantasy or not.
There is a desire to search for deeper meaning in images such as the falling black piano and the succubus in Eden. The story creates healthy opportunity for comparisons of the Creation story across the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. Pacing is erratic. At times the novel moves along like a good Dan Brown mystery, at other times it slogs along, with asides about intersecting characters including a Bedouin Sufi, and a nameless Texan Fundamentalist businessman.
This will be an excellent book club choice for those who enjoy analyzing content and meaning and having conversations of differing perspectives.
"Adam and Eve" is all about change, context and renewal.