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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-12-29
  • Publisher: Bantam
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It is the world's oldest tale: the story of Eve, her husband, Adam, and the tragedy that would overcome her sons.... In this luminous debut novel, Elissa Elliott puts a powerful twist on biblical narrative, boldly reimagining Eve's journey. At once intimate and universal, timely and timeless, this unique work of fiction blends biblical tradition with recorded history and dazzling storytelling. And as it does, Eve comes to life in a way religion and myth have never allowedin a novel that explores the very essence of love, motherhood, faith, and humanity. In their world they are alone...a family haunted by banishment, struggling for survival in a harsh new land. A woman who has borne and buried children, Eve sees danger shadowing those she loves, while her husband drifts further and further from the man he was in the Garden, blinded by his need to rebuild a life outside of Eden. One daughter, alluring, self-absorbed Naava, turns away from their beliefs. Another, crippled, ever-faithful Aya, harbors a fateful secret, while brothers Cain and Abel become adversaries, and Dara, the youngest, is chosen for a fate of her own. In one hot, violent summer, by the shores of the muddy Euphrates, strangers arrive on their land. New gods challenge their own. And for Eve, a time of reckoning is at hand. The woman who once tasted the forbidden fruit of paradise sees her family unravelingas brother turns on brother, culminating in a confrontation that will have far-reaching consequences for them all. From a woman's first awakening to a mother's innermost hopes and fears, from moments of exquisite tenderness to a climax of shocking violence,Evetakes us on a breathtaking journey of the imagination. A novel that has it allromantic love, lust, cruelty, heroism, envy, sacrifice, murderEveis a work of mesmerizing literary invention by a singular new voice in fiction. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Elissa Elliott is a former high school teacher. She is a contributing writer to Books & Culture and has optioned her first screenplay. She and her husband, Daniel Elliott, live in Minnesota. This is her first novel.

From the Hardcover edition.



I came upon my son's body by the river. The morning was no hotter or drier than usual, but as I crossed the plains between the house and the river, the wind kicked up the dust clouds, and I had to hold my robe over my nose. Dust clung to my wet face and marked the crooked trails of my tears. Behind me, the sky was the color of lettuce. The sand chafed my swollen feet, and my groin ached with the pains of Elazar's birth—was it just last evening I had borne him?—and my heart, oh, my heart's deep sorrow was for the travesty Cain had committed, then confessed to me like a blubbering child.

The body was not hard to find. The flies and vultures led me to him, fallen under the date palms, alongside the marshy river. His face was unrecognizable; Cain had seen to that. I don't remember if I was sad or grieving just then. I was more astonished than anything. I had seen animals killed, their throats slashed and their viscera splayed out on the ground, and certainly there were my babies who were lost. But nothing prepared me for the sight of Abel, my precious son, as still as a rock, his head bloodied and his neck arched back, stiff, at an unnatural angle. His eyes—I realize now that it was a miracle they had not yet been pecked out!—once full of his vigor and brooding and planning, were empty. They said nothing to me. Of course, Abel had said little to me ever since he took to the fields to tend his goats and sheep, but that is no matter. He was still my favorite. Is a mother permitted to say such things about her children?

I fell to my knees and threw my body over his. I lifted his head, cold and broken, to my breast, and cradled him there, as I had done so often when he was a baby. Fresh tears refused to come, which was strange. It was as though I had been thrown out of the Garden once again, rejected and abandoned, and, as only Adam can testify, they flowed like a river then. And where was Adam, my husband? Did he not care about our son, the one kissed by Elohim for his magnificent sacrifice? Or had Adam's deafness prevented him from hearing my anguished cries when Cain told me what he had done?

Softly, I sang the Garden song into my dead son's ear. I knew he would hear it, wherever he had gone off to. He had been the only one to understand its message and allure.

Abel's flesh was cold and clammy, and all I could remember was the vision of loveliness he was as a child—soft chubby skin folds and eyes only for me. He was the first to bring me gifts—poppies and ranunculus and clover, discarded feathers, and pebbles worn smooth by the river and carried down from the mountains. Cain would not have thought of it. He was too busy traipsing after his father—digging, planting, terracing, and experimenting with anything green.

What sorrow there is in having children! At first, they tickle your heartstrings. They linger for your words, clutch at your skirts, feed on your breath, and then one day they lurch to the edge of the nest and flutter out. They never return, and the empty space yawns impatiently, demanding more. It is a never-ending ache, one that I continued to fill as long as I was able.

The vultures hissed at me and made loud chuffing noises. They spread their mighty wings and danced about.

"Get!" I shouted, half rising and waving my arms.

They did not budge.

Where was my Abel? Where had he gone? Was he wandering somewhere, looking for his mother? I wondered if he would weep at not finding me. I remembered Elohim's words to Adam and me, "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return," but still, I did not believe it, did not want to believe it. What good were our lives if, in the end, we simply returned to earthly particles?

To make sense of this tragedy, I shall have to go back to the beginning of that hot summer, preceded by the spring harvest and sheep plucking, when our family's

Excerpted from Eve: A Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliott
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