Published 1977 – London Victor Gollancz Ltd
Baroque in style, apocalyptic in vision, The Passion of New Eve is a late twentieth- century pilgrim’s progress though a disintegrating world, a world which, at every turn, will extend and shock the senses.
New York has become the City of Dreadful Night, where black, disingenuous Leilah dances a dance of chaos and dissolution for Evelyn, the young Englishman whose exemplary fate is that of Tiresias – in the desert, the arid zone, the post-menopausal part of the earth, an many-breasted self-styled fertility goddess will wield the obsidian scalpel that transforms him into the new Eve of the title
This is the story of how Evelyn learns to be a woman and finally becomes a kind of Madonna, or eve at the end of the world. He undergoes a strenuous apprenticeship of femininity in the ranch-house of Zero, the poet, a ragtime Neitzche; marries ambiguous, ancient beautiful Tristessa, the ghost of Hollywood past, myth make flesh, in a glass palace full of worn-out dreams, a bankrupt Eden; is precipitated into the heavy reality of a California torn by civil war; and learns at last a kind of enlightenment in a deserted cave on the Pacific coast.
Using the apparatus of myth to examine the nature of the mythology of sexuality, Angela Carter’s dazzling imaginative novel is richly streaked with black humour. One of our most original and disturbing novelists, she has won both the Somerset Maugham and the John Llewellyn Rhys awards for her earlier novels.
This was a very interesting read for sure, full of metaphors, some I got straight away others I had to re-read a couple of times to fully get what they were getting at (quite a few big words that I haven’t heard of before or was unsure what context…).
Was action packed, for example ‘Eve’ was kidnapped about 4 times in less than 200 pages, and each new situation that she was in there was a whole lot more going on and each situation was so very different, women making him into a her, getting kidnapped by a crazy man with 7 wives that were forced to act like animals, taken to a glass palace, then escaping again with the ever elusive Tristessa and getting lost in the desert to then be taken hostage by teenage boys, to then ending up back at the beginning. It’s a whole life cycle in one little book.
Was written from Eve’s point of view, almost felt like a memoir type thing (not that I have read one of those before, but it’s how I would imagine one would be).
A few pet peeves
The chapters are not all the same length, 1 chapter is half a page long and a couple of the other chapters are about 30 or more pages long so kind of annoying is you are the kind of reader who likes a chapter before bed.
The main part of Evelyn becoming Eve bugs me as he is now a she but you never takes any hormone pills/injections to keep her now body her – so have to get past that as we now know about how these things work.
There lots of words that I don’t even know how to say so that makes it a bit hard but the book was still readable.
Loved the story, couldn’t wait to pick it up again, good length, and would be keen to read some other novels by Angela Carter after reading this one. Weird and wonderful a bit like me!
I’d rate this easily 4 out of 5.