Closely following the course of the Biblical text, the early part of the narrative creatively expands and explains the story of creation, the Fall and then Adam and Eve’s early years outside of Eden.
At the start there is a great description of the creation process and of Eden, as designed by God, as well as a good description of the intimacy of relationship that they had with God. It means that after the Fall, the loss of relationship and closeness to God is so profound. Adam and Eve need to learn how to live without that intimacy, still knowing and loving God, but from a different perspective. It lays the foundations for how we now can relate to God.
Reading it you gain a much deeper understanding of the fall and the implications it had for Adam and Eve over their very long lives, and hence for us. It really helps to understand the extent of what was lost.
There are reminders throughout the narrative that there was a sub-plot going on. Lucifer had fallen too, he was jealous and deceitful, and there were spiritual battles going on throughout the world. These spiritual battles were influencing human behaviours.
As the story develops it carries some ideas and themes that some may find more contentious, mostly because the Biblical narrative is so brief, so a lot has to be imagined. But this is the nature of the biblical fiction genre. It is handled with sensitivity and wisdom and it will certainly lead the reader to think about what may have happened to Cain and his family, and subsequent generations. The story shows the contrast between those who continued to follow God, albeit in a fallen world, and those who follow a path with no God.
Whereas other biblical fiction novels often stop mid-way through Genesis 4, this one continues through Genesis 5. It is quite interesting to bring to life the generations after Adam and Eve, to highlight the impact of sin entering the world, with just a few notable God-fearing exceptions. It shows the need eventually for intervention, when Noah steps into the frame a little later on.
This book does what biblical fiction should do – to make the reader think. In this case to think what those early years may have been like, and what Adam and Eve and their descendants may have had to face. The raging spiritual battles as the earth suffered the effects of sin taking over.
Eve is certainly depicted as a character who loved God. She disobeyed Him, but never lost her love for Him even when she felt distant. Sentiments many of us can associate with.
Daughter of Eden, by Jill Eileen Smith, is available here.
Thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.