This feels like an Oprah book. It’s not, but that is the type of book it wants to be. Desperately. Most people are familiar with Oprah’s book club and the type of novels that frequent her reading lists. Every page of Rhonda Riley’s debut novel is dripping with homage to the talk show queen’s preferences for pulp.
I am certainly guilty of falling into Oprah’s trap, and of doing so on more than one occasion. Every now and then, a girl just wants to read about a woman finding her sexuality and/or developing personal strength through overcoming various life obstacles. That’s pretty much the modus operandi of the club – books that try to be deep about women that try to be strong. Not to trash our dear friend, Oprah. She has, over the years, made a few good selections: A Fine Balance and East of Eden are still amongst my favorite books. Regardless, if you have ever in your life read a book on the Oprah’s book club list, and you happened to purchase this book on Amazon, then Amazon will forever recommend that you read similar books. This is how I stumbled upon Ms. Riley. That and the fact that I am unfortunately a sucker for books with elongated titles involving a strangely-named title character. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. A Prayer for Owen Meany. Why not try The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope?
Set during World War II, Evelyn Roe is a young woman living by herself in the North Carolinian countryside to help run the family farm. One day, she stumbles upon what appears to be a disfigured man buried in the mud. She brings this man into her home and cleans him up. Within days, he has morphed into a she, a she that is essentially a clone of Evelyn. I’m not making this up. I’m also not making up the fact that Evelyn and her clone become lovers, until it becomes evident that the two would like marriage and children someday. Evelyn II then proceeds to locate an attractive fellow, upon which she and this individual barricade themselves in a hotel room until enough time has elapsed that Evelyn II is able to transform into this man’s duplicate. Then she goes home to marry Evelyn I, changing her name to Adam to avoid any confusion. After having a litter of somewhat-normal children, the couple must deal with Adam’s otherness in addition to the fact that he hasn’t aged a day thirty years into their marriage.
I’m stumped. I really don’t even know what to say. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Dumb. These are all words that come to mind. Actually, I’m just going to leave it at that. I am not going to dignify this book by trying to analyze it. Suffice it to say that this book should not be read ever again by anyone. Ever. Not even Oprah.