Eve: A Novel Of The First Woman
The Old Testament tale of Eve informs this imaginative, poetic novel of what the first woman’s life might have been like, both before and after her expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The story of Adam and Eve’s life in the Garden of Eden is told via flashbacks, and both Eve and her daughters struggle with the possibility of returning to the sacred place. Each chapter is narrated by and focuses on the experiences of Eve or one of her three daughters, and Elliott skillfully uses different narrative points-of-view and voices to further the character development. Eve is wise and world-weary, both beaten down by the struggles of her life and faith and comforted by the presence of Elohim. Aya, the middle daughter, is shrewd and opinionated, but her mangled foot keeps her from the public eye. Youngest daughter Dara speaks with a child’s voice as she is sent from her home to assist the Mesopotamian women in the village near her family’s settlement with their children, and chapters focusing on Naava, the eldest and most attractive of Eve’s daughters, are told in the third person, reminding the reader that Naava’s personal story is being dictated by outside forces rather than her own desires. The novel also delves into the Cain and Abel story, describing the origins of their feud and its escalation into murder.
Elliott draws not only on Jewish and Christian scholarship but also on Mesopotamian history for her interpretation, and an afterword describes the sources consulted and the author’s creative process. Biblical literalists may take affront at Elliott’s interpretation of the creation story and assertion that Adam and Eve were not the first man and woman on Earth, but readers who enjoy woman-centered reinterpretations of Old Testament texts (such as Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent) will be drawn to Eve.