How to describe paradise?
Eden Undone: a novel novel that explores the consequences of Eve defying the serpent
By Anna Lindsay
Reviewer: Martin Poole
To place this book alongside C S Lewis’ Narnia series, as the front cover suggests is hyperbole, but one thing is certain Anna Lindsay presents us with an unusual, and in fact novel novel.
The story is rooted in a rewrite of Genesis 3, where Eve laughs at the very thought of defying God’s directive by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the serpent is sent packing.
The whole of creation heaves a collective sigh of relief and paradise continues on its unblemished way.
It is here that Anna encounters a major problem. How can one describe a perfect world / paradise?
Scripture is particularly reticent, perhaps because as Paul writes – “No eye has seen no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2v9).
The version that Anna gives to us can be drawn from scripture but lacks any allure. It is a vegetarian community, that enjoy a Dr Dolittle verbal type relationship with the animals and where nobody wears any clothes.
Indeed it is this emphasis on clothes or the lack thereof, that is presented as a key characteristic of Anna’s paradise - naturism rules, OK.
However what was considered a ludicrous suggestion by Eve is quickly acted upon by her daughter Yani and husband / partner Cain, and so the fall occurs.
The outcome is two groups of people namely the Fallen and the Unfallen and the novel explores the interaction between the Unfallen still in Eden, and the banished Fallen.
It is fair to say that this reviewer was less than enamoured with the book, yet I am grateful for one illustration that Anna enlists to account for the inability of fallen mankind to bear the direct presence of God. She reminds us that clay pots fashioned with impurities will not survive the fire of the kiln.
Maybe others will find little gems of truth in this unconventional story.
The Revd Martin Poole is a retired Baptist minister having served churches in Penarth, Godalming and Eastleigh