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The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 23, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062099442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062099440
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“An incredible, otherworldly love story...[that] reads with the urgency of a lifelong secret finally confessed.” (Julianna Baggott, bestselling author of Pure and Girl Talk)

“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.” (Library Journal)

“Rhonda Riley’s debut novel fuses a lyrical, tender love story with a sophisticated depiction of a supernatural sentient being… [Riley] succeeds both in getting the reader to suspend disbelief and fashioning a compelling story.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Well-written and stocked with many strong characterizations.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“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)

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is strange and powerful, a hybrid work that’s part Alice Munro, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and entirely, marvelously, itself. In her debut novel, Rhonda Riley has written the most resonant and touching love story I’ve read in a very long time.” (Lauren Groff, bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton)

“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.” (BookPage)

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)

From the Back Cover

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.

More About the Author

Except for brief periods living in California, Ireland, and the Netherlands, I have resided in Florida since I was a small child. Much of my writing has centered on the confounding generosities of my home state. For years, I wanted to write the story of my mother. I wanted to tell the truth but I could never make it work. After several of life's standard upheavals and a long hiatus from writing, I gave myself permission to depart from the truth. The result was THE ENCHANTED LIFE OF ADAM HOPE, my first novel--a very fictional tribute to my mother and to nature. I live in Gainesville, Florida with a good man, two equally good cats, and many frogs. Currently, I'm working on an unrelated novel and beginning research for a sequel to ADAM HOPE. I am a reader as much as writer. I am convinced that, while books may be stored on shelves and in e-devices, our stories thrive only in the space between the teller and the listener/reader. Only between us. Happy reading.

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Customer Reviews

Beautifully written,superb story...
While, again, some of the writing is quite lovely, there wasn't much depth or substance to the characters or the plot.
Elaine Walsh
I haven't read a book in a long time that stayed with me as much as this one has.
C. G. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By BrooklynReader on April 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. The voice of Evelyn drew me in and kept me close until the very end. I was sad to finish this book because that meant saying good-bye to the characters, the time, the place. I would have liked to have stayed there longer! This book is infused with wisdom, enchantment, the ordinary made extraordinary, all wrapped up in a wonderful, completely absorbing, and unexpected, page-turning, plot. The language is both exquisite and accessible. I don't know how to say this without sounding sappy (and this is not a sappy book at all) but it also has some of the most beautiful love and love-making scenes I've ever read - I felt I learned a lot about the beauty of life (and was slightly jealous) reading them.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The narrator is Evelyn Roe. It is the end of WWII, and a family death has necessitated her taking over her aunt's farm on her own. She is 17, but suited to the work and the solitude. She finds a stranger half dead on the land, and he appears to be recovering from a burn with blurred features and pitted skin.

The stranger evolves over the next week into almost the twin of Evelyn. And of course she is "other". In this is my single criticism in that this device is very similar to the movie, "Starman", in whihc the visitor from another star evolves into a known man using his DNA. But that is the end of the resemblance. The plot evolves almost secondary to the characters. The other, Addie becomes lover, friend and helper. The prose is lovely. The scenes of Addie learning humanity are lucid and luminous. At one point she is puzzled by people attempting to lie which she finds transparent "like a naked man trying to straighten his tie." Obviously from the title, an enchanted Adam Hope appears, but i think the particulars might be spoilers, so I stop here.

Set in a tiny mill town after the war, the book offers lovely scenes and vignettes of rural America. In a time before media, Evelyn struggles and succeeds to keep her secret until the revelation, this journal. I found the whole novel to be an easeful experience, and I enjoyed the philosophy of acceptance to be heartening.
This is a first time book, and I think she produced a lovely novel. If I could, I would award 4.5 stars, but I enjoyed the reading enough to round up to 5.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Ingraham on April 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I truly enjoyed the story and the details of the land. As a Floridan and a big fan of the parks here I appreciated the inclusion of Adam's love of the parks.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Mathieson on June 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
While I've not read all the reviews about this book, I notice many of them focus on the love story between Evelyn and Adam. However, for me the magic lay, filtered through exquisitely layered writing, in the re-telling of the creation story, particularly from the standpoint of the role of sound. 'In the beginning was the word...' Whether Rhonda intended to do this or not is secondary. The underlying structure of all cultures' creation myths have power, and our Christian story is one that has been sensitively re-told in this novel. (Writing this, I realize I may be completely putting my own spin on the story, and missing Rhonda's original intention.)

In this story, Adam is 'born' of Eve, a feminist twist to the original story. Adam's remarkable gift is his ability to affect fields of energy with his voice, both consciously and unconsciously. He does this in their love-making in an involuntary fashion, creating rippling sensations through Evelyn and the entire room. He uses his sound consciously while working with horses, taming them through his focused, gentle sounding. But this rare gift has to remain secret, and thus does not develop or grow into its mature expression. This aspect of the story intrigues me too because I feel we all have rare, unusual gifts that stay hidden due to our fear of revealing something that will cause us embarrassment or shame. When Adam's grief wrenches a horrific sound from him, though it is authentic and powerful, it completely ostracizes them from the community. (I found myself thinking of this powerful utterance when I was at a recent funeral for a young girl, longing for the raw, gut-wrending, howling grief that was carefully censured by appropriate, pleasant words...)

It is very difficult to write about the effects of sound.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laura Booksnob on May 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The red mud of North Carolina gave birth to Adam Hope. It had been storming for days when Evelyn, a young 17 year old farm girl, saw a human form in the mud. She carried this person into the farmhouse. She isn't quite sure what she saw and doesn't trust her perceptions but this person formed into a woman who looked just like her within days.
They formed a bond, made up a story and Addie was born.

Soon Addie would metamorphosis into Adam, the love of Evelyn's life. They married, had children, worked the farm and developed a horse business. Adam was gifted with horses, unique and different in multiple ways. He was human with supernatural qualities. He was every girl's dream.

Evelyn lived in fear for the day when people would discover that Adam was different from other men. She always wanted to tell her daughters or her mother the truth of Adam's origin but could never find the words to explain it. One day her worst fear is realized at the funeral of one of her daughters. Evelyn and Adam's life permanently changed that day when Adam became ostracized within their small North Carolina community.

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is a unique and fierce love story. In many ways it reminded me of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. Adam was born of the earth and to the earth he shall return. Evelyn emerged from her mother's womb and Adam did not. Riley has created a story that is touching and lovely. In many ways she pushes the boundaries of what we think is human and natural. Allowing for the fact that not everyone fits into the same mold of human perfection. There are variations and qualities that shapes us as human.

Riley does not offer explanations as to why Adam is the way he is.
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