Leaving Eden

Ann Chamberlin, Author
Ann Chamberlin, Author Forge $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-86550-4
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-87511-4
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4668-3823-9
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""In the beginning..."" traditionally opens the Judeo-Christian story of origins; but this provocative novel by historical fiction writer Chamberlin (The Reign of the Favored Women) wrestles with what happened before the beginning. The down-to-earth style of the narrative is set early on with a sly feminist joke (""Oh, Adam.... He thinks he's the only man in the world. He always has"") and proceeds to explore the world of Na'amah, Adam's daughter by his first wife, Lilith, the immortal mother/goddess who vanished when Na'amah was still an infant. Now 15-year-old Na'amah is a respected storyteller, with a resentful, brooding father. Adam has grown restless without a wife, since tribal laws hold that a man cannot remarry while children from the first marriage live, unless he kills a great bull aurochs, an animal not seen since Adam's father's time. But Na'amah anxiously notes the increasing sensual tension between Adam and a woman from another tribe, called Eve. Soon enough, Adam begins to challenge the clan's laws to support his desire to take Eve as his wife. His increasingly delusional state separates him from the tribe, with Eve joining him in his dramatic estrangement. Na'amah trails the wayward couple, hoping to prevent disaster, but as Adam begins to make claims to a new God, ""his"" God, the peaceful valley of Eden is shaken. Lilith reappears to refute Adam's heresies and to challenge his selfish views. Chamberlin herself challenges traditional Christian theology in her supposition that Goddess Lilith preceded Adam's God, and in the book's surprising finale. Fans of Jean Auel, Linda Lay Shuler and the Gears (Kathleen O'Neal and W. Michael) will enjoy these strong, fascinating and multifaceted characters as well as the details that enliven the visionary panorama of Chamberlin's fine speculative fiction. (July)
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