The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is unsettling--at least it was to me. The premise is a bit fantastic on the surface, but then gives way to a traditional story of love, raising a family and the pressures that test relationship bonds.
At the beginning of the story, Evelyn Roe is living on her own at the family farm once run by her grandmother. Evelyn is in her late teens. The time period is just after World War II. She encounters the title character during a torrential rain storm -- literally stuck in the mud. The stranger recovers at an unnatural pace and then becomes a mirror image of her. Later, the figure morphs in the Adam Hope, who becomes Evelyn's husband.
Know that I am purposely giving a limited sense of events, so you can make your own judgement. There is so much in the story that is a metaphor for life, set on this frame of the unknown. So much of life is a leap of faith, and Rhonda Riley tells a grounded story that is lyrically written. Evelyn knows that her husband is different; the community senses his difference as well. But they push ahead and have four daughters that integrate both parental traits.
This would make a terrific book club selection due to its unusual premise, familiar relationships and the questions posed by all. After all isn't that why we read good fiction?
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is Rhonda Riley's first novel. She is a graduate of the creative writing program at The University of Florida and lives in Gainesville, FL.