THE GARDEN

Elsie V. Aidinoff, Author . HarperTempest $15.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-055606-8

In Aidinoff's provocative debut, God has given Eve to the Serpent to raise while He rears Adam. As the book opens, narrator Eve is just coming to consciousness, and her sense of wonder as the Serpent introduces her to her surroundings is one of the novel's strengths; it also sets the stage for Eve's later decision to eat the apple. The author characterizes the Serpent as the embodiment of Reason, Justice and Wisdom, whereas most of the time God comes through as a rather two-dimensional fiery Old Testament deity. One day God becomes impatient to discover whether or not he's designed the male and female to procreate properly, so he rushes Adam and Eve into intercourse ("It's just that—I want to see it happen, so I know it works!"). The Serpent alone recognizes the consequences of God's act: "Until today Eve has felt... that the world was good.... [Adam] as good as raped her. With your encouragement." Eve leaves the Garden to gain some distance from God, and the Serpent accompanies her. Upon their return to the Garden, the roots of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil begin to grow; the Serpent senses that time is running out to teach Eve that lovemaking is good. The author develops Eve and the Serpent as more fully realized characters than God and Adam. Readers may ultimately have trouble sympathizing with the Serpent (given that he decides to step out of his role as ideal guardian to make love to Eve) and with God as portrayed here ("It's not good for you to know the difference between good and evil, because it's not good for you to think ! Not for yourselves anyway," God says). Ages 14-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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FORMATS
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-06-055607-5
Paperback - 403 pages - 978-0-09-948407-3
Hardcover - 403 pages - 978-0-385-60894-7
Hardcover - 403 pages - 978-0-06-055605-1
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