I just finished reading The Garden by Elsie V Aidinoff. It is a big bucket of controversy, not only rewriting Genesis, but also bringing sexual assault into the mix. This is actually the second time I’ve read it, but I don’t remember how I felt about it the first read through years ago. This time I couldn’t even decide how to feel. I haven’t found anything else by this author and in fact she is not even readily available through major retailers so I’m thinking she fell off the radar after the publication.
It starts off interestingly with the birth of Eve and her trying to understand literally everything as a newborn would, but in a much older body. She has to figure out what hands are, about clouds, the sun, anything you can conceive of because she’s brought into existence fully formed but with nothing in her head.
The God in the Garden is more like a petulant child than anything else. While the characters acknowledge him as the creator there are several cases in the story where things “get away” from God. The true teacher in the story is the Serpent who is not represented as the voice of reason and not anything evil. In the story Eve is raised by the Serpent and grows up having her curiosity, intelligence and independence encouraged while Adam is raised by God under a loving, but iron fist.
The difficulty with the story comes in where God wants to see if his design for human procreation works and when he quickly finds it’s not as simple as he planned he doesn’t just let it be, leaving Eve assaulted and Adam having no idea what he’s truly done. Majority of the book focuses on Eve’s recovery from these events and her exploration outside of the Garden. It creates an interesting narrative about sexual assault because neither character had any idea what they were doing and even God didn’t understand that it could possibly be bad. It’s a weird look at things since in the context of the story it is literally the first assault committed ever. Where is gets really weird is the final stage of Eve’s recovery and the involvement of the Serpent. Up to this point he has been an ideal companion and teacher, but I couldn’t help but be really creeped out by his solution to make her stop being afraid of intimate physical contact… I think you can guess where it goes.
I’m curious as to why the author disappears after this book, whether controversy or something else happened. I can’t decide how I feel about this book, some parts are good and some parts just don’t work for me. It’s an interesting piece of literature if you’re looking for something to read.
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