Published by Howard Books on September 2008
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Created, not born. Her name is Eve. Myth and legend shroud her in mystery. Now hear her story.
She knew this earth when it was perfect—as she was perfect, a creature without flaw. Created by God in a manner like no other, Eve lived in utter peace as the world’s first woman, until she made a choice, one mistake for which all of humanity would suffer. But what did it feel like to be the first person to sin and experience exile; to see innocence crumble so vividly; and to witness a new strange, darker world emerge in its place?
Havah | Tosca Lee
Today I took a journey deep into the imagination of Tosca Lee. With Eve – Havah – the mother of all living as her subject, and the Biblical account of Genesis as her framework, Lee uses vivid imagination based on historical research combined with literary eloquence that breathes life into the story. While many have taken pen in hand to draw up their imaginative accounts of playing out of the apocalyptic events of Revelation, Lee takes us back into the Genesis of history, an even more apocalyptic time.
If the express intent of a novel’s prologue is to force the reader into reading the remainder of the novel, then Lee proves herself successful. The story of Havah is intricately woven. From intimate communion with both God and Adam, to the destructive Fall through deceit by the beguiling Serpent, to the beginnings of a new life outside the Garden, Havah is an imaginative tale that explores what life would have been like for mankind’s first family.
Two things drew me to this book: first, the prose; second, the relationship dynamic. To the first, one must note that this is not your typical wham-bang thriller with a mile a minute pace. The prose is much more lyrical, more literary, richer and deeper in meaning. There is much more narrative and description than dialogue (how much dialogue can you have when so few people walk the earth?), and this, combined with the literary style, may turn off readers geared toward a more-consumer and less-literary style. But they do so at their own loss.
To the second, the development of the relationship dynamic, especially as it played out between Adam and Havah (Eve) as a contrast to their pre-Fall and post-Fall relationship, as well as their relationship with their sons Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel), and the brothers’ relationship with one another.
As an armchair theologian (with two degrees in the field), I must admit that as I read I did so with a cautious eye to the interpretation of theology. While allowing and recognizing the vast amount of creative license one must be willing to bear in order to even begin to undertake the writing of a novel such as this, I more than subconsciously scanned the text for what I would have considered theological aberration. Lee, through spectacular research and – if her author’s postscript speaks truly – at the cost of more than one scholar’s sanity, navigates the tricky and murky waters of speculative theology masterfully, clearly adhering to what is considered orthodoxy in regards to the Genesis record while allowing herself freedom among those issues discussed speculatively amongst scholars.
One further note one might make is the use of changing the names from those we all know and love from how Bibles. This technique served to remove the characters from cliché without removing them from the meanings their names have. The names are the original Hebrew for that which we have Anglicized, and by reverting to the original, Lee takes the two-dimensional flannel-graph Sunday School characters and breathes into them new life in this exquisite story.
Havah is not a novel to pass up just on the basis of its melodic prose, but truly it is the story, and the imagination and heart within it that make it a must-read.