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
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

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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Reader Reviews

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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.

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.

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.

...14 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Sena Jeter Naslund Author Biography

Photo: Marion Ettlinger

Sena Jeter Naslund is an American writer, 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 received her MA ...

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