Sunday, November 20, 2011

Havah: The Story of Eve

The “Christian novel” has been the subject of much derision, including some gentle knocking from yours truly in a previous post.  However, the usual flaws of the “Christian novel” (which include plastic cardboard cutout characters who walk around holding Bible study at every opportunity) are not present in the book presently under consideration.  In fact, I cannot find enough good things to say about Havah: The Story of Eve (B&H Publishing Group, 2010) by Tosca Lee.

Author Tosca Lee

The basis of Ms. Lee’s novel is the first five chapters of the Book of Genesis.  Taking the Biblical narrative seriously, Lee weaves a compelling portrait of what the Garden of Eden must have been like for Adam and Eve (“Havah”) before the first sin was committed.  Her descriptions of life in paradise are imaginative and well conceived.  Ms. Lee’s well written conception of how the world must have changed after the Fall from Grace is some of the best imaginative fiction which I have read in a long time.

 An imaginative photo of author Tosca Lee

In scene after scene, Ms. Lee scores a home run in her narrative which Bible readers will find familiar but also very new.  The reader comes away with the feeling that if the Bible is taken literally this must be very close to what it was really like.

Tosca Lee with the "cowgirl" look

After the initial sin, Adam and Eve begin being repulsed by the killing of animals for clothing and the eating of meat.  As time goes on, however, these things become commonplace.  As their long lives go on, the memories of the Garden of Paradise grow dim.  As their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren become farther removed from God, sin and troubles increase.  And these troubles include disease and natural disasters.  Ms. Lee has brilliantly concocted a story in which the reader is made acutely aware that the world that we live in is not like God intended it to be.

Author Tosca Lee with the "Elvira Mistress of the Dark" look.

I was fascinated that the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Havah is described as a dragon.  This explains how God then changes the Serpent from a creature who walked and flew to a creature that wriggles on the ground.  Although dragons no longer exist, the memory of the dragon stays in the human consciousness to be incorporated into legend and depicted in art.  The dragon is depicted as a creature which was merely the manifestation of the fallen angel Satan.

Ms. Lee also weaves a lot of good theology into her narrative.  The idea is put forward that there is no morality without choice and, therefore, the tempter had to be in the garden of paradise.  Adam and Eve had to be given a choice whether to obey God or rebel, otherwise they had no true free will.  Their bad decision forever binds their descendants and warps the world they live in.

Being written from the first person point of view of the first woman, some will probably describe Havah as "chick lit."  Indeed, with its descriptions of what it is like to be pregnant, this book could probably only have been written by a woman.  In the relationship between Adam and Eve, the novel does have a kind of  "romance novel" feel to it.  However, this is definitely not a Harlequin Romance novel.

According to Wikepedia, the author, Tosca Lee, “was born on December 1969 in Roanoke, Virginia to Sang Moon Lee and Laura Moncrief.  Her father, a first-generation Korean who initially entertained dreams of becoming an opera tenor before he went on to establish himself as a leading academic in the area of business management, named her after his favorite Puccini opera, “Tosca.”  Ms. Lee was the winner of the Mrs. Nebraska beauty pageant for 1996 and a runner up in the Mrs. U.S.A. pageant.  As well as being a writer and a model, she also works for Gallup.  Read an interview with Tosca Lee here.

Ms. Lee is obviously a woman of many faces.

In traditional rabbinic Judaism, Midrash is a storytelling technique that seeks to understand the
Biblical text by telling stories to fill in the gaps left in the Biblical narrative.  It seems to me that this is what Ms. Lee’s novel really is: modern day Midrash.  Havah is a very enlightening and entertaining novel.  Highly recommended.

The mysterious "Girl Next Door" Look (Love the Black Fingernail Polish!)

Tosca Lee as Mrs. Nebraska 1996

The Bad Catholic loves the swim suit competition!

No comments:

Post a Comment