The Wild Mother

The Wild Mother
by Elizabeth Cunningham, Station Hill, 1993, $20.95

The author of this novel, which belongs to the genre of magic realism, breathes new life into contemporary conceptions of Lilith, Eve, and Adam. While engaged in the highly energetic plot, the reader becomes drawn into the mystery and splendor of the Kabbalah, the Bible, magic and Midrash. The main characters—Lilith, Eva Brooke and Adam Underwood, together with their children—stand at the intersection of the founding myths of Western consciousness and everyday humanity, with lives and concerns which resemble that of the reader. A man and a woman (Adam and Eva) contort themselves in an unrelenting romantic entanglement; a mother, grandmother, daughter and son deal with the tensions and problems of being interdependent family members; and individuals struggle to choose between identities.

Through her telling of this story, Cunningham deconstructs Lilith, achieving no less than a reconsideration of the questions surrounding human understanding of the universe, our relationship with our ecosystem, ourselves and each other.

The author re-envisions the heritage of women, beginning with this powerful myth. Cunningham rewrites the scripts of Adam, Eve, and Lilith, the chimerical “Wild Mother.” Lilith, as the “First Woman,” left the Garden of her own free will. “She was not cast out of the Garden as the Man and the Second Woman were when they ate of the tree of knowledge. She chose the Wilderness, and the Wilderness welcomed her as it had never welcomed Man, who tried to subdue the Wilderness as he tried to subdue the First Woman,” she writes. The result is a novel which replaces old images with new ones, refreshing and invigorating.

The Wild Mother will take you on a journey through another world, one which holds profound implications for the way you envision your own.