LEAVING EDEN

The old story of Adam and Eve told from the point of view of his daughter by a previous marriage -- to Lilith.

From Booklist May 15, 1999


"What if the God of Eden were really a goddess? What if the fall from grace were a fall into agriculture, away from the hunter-gatherer life? And what if someone could write this oft-told tale in a ravishingly poetic way? Chamberlin has done so, re-creating a world in which humanity and nature live in harmony, with the former celebrating the bounty of the latter and migrating seasonally among milk-and-honey lands. The goddess is Lilith, the powerful and fiercely sexual force of survival and reproduction. Into this Eden comes an arrogant man who pits himself against the natural order by refusing to let old ones die when their time has come and to migrate when the season demands. Told by Adam's daughter, the bard Na'amah, the tragic story holds an underlying warning for today: that we are about to destroy what little is left of that primeval Eden. Thoroughly based in contemporary research about prehistory, Chamberlin's novel is a gorgeous melding of art and scholarship."  --Patricia Monaghan

An Excerpt from Leaving Eden:

In the beginning, Adam was lonely.

That's how the clanswoman explained it, at any rate.

"Adam wants a helpmate," they said, winking.

"Oh, Adam," one of my older aunts, Rachel said with a dismissive wave. She was the liveliest, the jester. "He thinks he's the only man in the world. He always has."

Loud laughter burst from the group as it did after anything Rachel said. The great, bare limestone face of the mountain jutting before them, looking and acting like an animal's shoulder blade, scooped up the sound and flung it back on my ears. But then the women dropped down over a low rise and the dance of sound changed on the spring morning air. I couldn't hear who spoke next. I scurried after them, leaving most of the tender green shoots of a clump of yarrow untouched.

It was my father they were discussing after all. My father, Adam, who was lonely. Whom everyone declared needed "a helpmate".

Of course, this wasn't the first time my clanswomen had discussed my father in my hearing. Fifteen years of such talk had failed to bring them to any agreement, or they would have changed the subject long ago.

Fifteen years had also failed to answer my questions.

Why should Adam be lonely? I wanted to ask. Doesn't he have us, nearly as many in the clan as there are days in a cycle of the moon? Doesn't he have me, his own daughter?