Enchanted Life of Adam Hope (Riley)

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope
Rhonda Riley, 2013
424 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062099440

In the waning months of World War II, young Evelyn Roe's life is transformed when she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier, all but completely buried in the heavy red-clay soil on her family's farm in North Carolina.

When Evelyn rescues the stranger, it quickly becomes clear he is not a simple man. As innocent as a newborn, he recovers at an unnatural speed, and then begins to change—first into Evelyn's mirror image, and then into her complement, a man she comes to know as Adam.

Evelyn and Adam fall in love, sharing a connection that reaches to the essence of Evelyn's being. But the small town where they live is not ready to accept the likes of Adam, and his unusual origin becomes the secret at the center of their seemingly normal marriage.

Adam proves gifted with horses, and together he and Evelyn establish a horse-training business. They raise five daughters, each of whom possesses something of Adam's supernatural gifts. Then a tragic accident strikes the family, and Adam, in his grief, reveals his extraordinary character to the local community. Evelyn and Adam must flee to Florida with their daughters to avoid ostracism and prying doctors. Adrift in their new surroundings, they soon realize that the difference between Adam and other men is greater than they ever imagined.

Intensely moving and unforgettable, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope captures the beauty of the natural world, and explores the power of abiding love and otherness in all its guises. It illuminates the magic in ordinary life and makes us believe in the extraordinary. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Rhonda Riley is a graduate of the creative writing program at the University of Florida. This is her first novel. She lives in Gainesville, Florida. (From the publisher.)

In her own words
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is my first published book. When I was in college, I published a few poems, then a couple of essays, but there was one story I could not make fit into a poem, an essay or a short story—the story of my mother’s life.

I attended the University of Florida and received an MFA in fiction writing, then real life distracted me. But still I wanted to write my mother’s story. Finally, after a divorce and the death of my brother, I decided life was too short to wait any longer. I quit my job and bought myself some time to write a very fictional account of my mother’s voice.

Many drafts, three jobs, and two writing groups later, I had a polished novel and the fortune to find a wonderful agent and great editor at Ecco. I live in Gainesville, Florida with a new, good man, two aging and equally good cats, and many frogs. (Visit the author's website.)

Book Reviews
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope creates a world in which the reader will encounter the full spectrum of emotions… This stunningly beautiful and unforgettable novel, a testament to the possibilities and triumph of love, find a permanent home in the reader’s heart.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Riley’s debut novel fuses a lyrical, tender love story with a sophisticated depiction of a supernatural sentient being.... Riley sometimes overdoes the quotidian minutiae of farm life, but succeeds both in getting the reader to suspend disbelief and fashioning a compelling story.
Publishers Weekly

First-time novelist Riley's exquisite language draws the reader into this improbable, beautifully rendered, somewhat biblical love story with a wildly imaginative premise that is irresistible, tender, and provocative. —Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Library Journal

Enhanced by gorgeous depictions, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope evokes the wonder of being alive, of loving, of finding one’s home. By the end, it feels like you have truly listened in on a life. This should be one of 2013’s most deserving hits.

Folkloric elements blend with pure romance in Rhonda Riley’s startling The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, a debut novel that raises questions about how well we ever know our loved ones--and whether it even matters…. Riley’s unusual meditation on the private worlds we build to shelter our partners and our children is written with earthiness and deep appreciation for the power of the land…. Both dreamily erotic and filled with the relatable minutiae of day-to-day life.
Shelf Awareness

A husband literally made in the image of others teaches Evelyn Roe about enduring love and the equally enduring human distrust of difference in Riley's debut.... [If] Evelyn's love was ever shaken by any real conflicts, this sweet but rather anodyne tale would gain some needed bite. As is, despite a few asides on racism, it's basically a romance with E.T. trimmings. Well-written and stocked with many strong characterizations, but fuzzy in plotting and theme.
Kirkus Reviews

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