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Infinity in the Palm of her Hand: A Novel Of Adam And Eve    by Gioconda Belli order for
Infinity in the Palm of her Hand
by Gioconda Belli
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Schulenburg

Gioconda Belli's retelling of the Adam and Eve story begins, as it should, in the Garden. Adam and Eve suddenly are - 'From not being to being conscious that he was.' As they begin to explore their idyllic world, they are aware of the Other, a mysterious being who seems to have some stake in their existence. Adam knows the Other's name is Elokim, and hears the Other speak to him on occasion. They also make the acquaintance of the Serpent, a cryptic being who answers more of their questions than the Other. They soon find out, though, that the Serpent may not necessarily be their friend.

Staying true to the major events in the narrative, Belli's Eve eats the forbidden fruit, and gives it to Adam, who also eats. The couple is expelled from the Garden, they make their first clothing, kill their first food, and bear their first children. To many readers who cherish the Biblical story, however, this Adam and Eve may be almost unrecognizable.

In her Author's Note, Belli talks about discovering the variations on the Adam and Eve tale found in ancient texts such as the Nag Hammadi library and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Drawing inspiration from these and other sources, Belli paints a picture of Eve and Adam much different from the one we are used to reading. Eve is curious, adventurous, and quick-witted, and actively seeks answers to many difficult questions. Adam is more cautious, protective, but driven by his love for Eve, and his desire not to be alone. God, in the form of the Other, is distant and cold, seeming to care little about the creatures he chose to make.

Gioconda Belli is a poet, and that is obvious throughout the novel. Her words are incredibly beautiful, and even in translation her narrative sings. Her ideas about the nature of God, good, and evil, are fascinating, and make the well-known story come alive in new and unique ways. While her twisting of the traditional narrative will inevitably bother some readers, Infinity in the Palm of her Hand is an excellent addition to the shelves for those who enjoy biblical retellings.

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