Friday, 12 June 2009
The Garden - Elsie V Aidinoff
For some reason that I can't explain I really enjoy reading novels that retell Bible stories but that take different viewpoint, or that are narrated by over looked (or reviled) characters. This being the case I am really not sure how I managed to miss this book when it was published back in 2006.
The Garden is a reworking of the Creation Story from Genesis but his time told from Eve's point of view. In this version Eve is living in the Garden of Eden being tutored in the ways of the world by the wise, benevolent and beautiful Serpent. At the same time Adam is being raised by God. Their upbringings could not be more different.
Eve learns quickly in her paradise but is always being taught to explore, to question and to test her boundaries by the Serpent. Adam and Eve finally meet and a friendship starts to grow as both God and the Serpent continue to educate the pair. God however has his own plans and unable to wait for events to unfold naturally he forces Adam into an act that horrifies him and damages Eve in many ways.
Eve no longer trusts God and no longer feels safe in the Garden. Together Eve and Serpent leave Eden and explore the world around them while Eve tries to come to terms with what has happened to her. Slowly she heals and with her new understanding she starts to rebuild her relationships with Adam and God.
Eventually Adam and Eve come across the Apple, eat it and then have to live with the consequences of their actions.
There is so much more to this book than this basic outline, it is full of beauty and wonder, it is full of sadness, betrayal and ultimately hope. I did find it very hard to put down. I liked the way that Aidinoff managed to mix evolution, feminism and freewill into the traditional story. Her interpretation of the story and characters will offend some readers but I found them fascinating - and to be honest her idea of God fitted very much in with my image of him as presented by later Old Testament stories. The growth of Adam and Eve was well handled and I very much enjoyed the way that Eve was portrayed, who knew I was such a feminist at heart?
As with most books this one is not without fault. The imagery, style and language used lull the reader into feeling that this is a book aimed at a younger audience, until the important scene in the middle changes everything and puts this book soundly in the older teen section.
I did enjoy this, it isn't as in depth or multi layered as works such as Anita Diamant's Red Tent but Aidinoff has written a book that really managed to make me believe that if Creation happened as put forward in Genesis then this is how it happened
So far this is Aidinoff's only book but despite some very good reviews in the press it sadly seems to have already slipped out of print. I do urge you all to visit your local library and borrow this as soon as possible while I keep my fingers crossed that Elsie Aidinoff writes another book!