The Passion of New Eve

January 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm (Reading) (, , )

I adore The Magic Toyshop, but, shamefully, I haven’t read much Angela Carter other than that. I decided to rectify that last week with The Passion of New Eve. Hmm. I wish I’d gone for Wise Children instead. Not only does New Eve not make much sense, there’s a woeful lack of characterisation. Also, it’s hard to read on the tube without burning cheeks in case someone is reading over my shoulder.

I hate to say it, but I actually think it was badly written. The issues – gender roles, misogyny, gender identity, society’s-all-gone-to-hell – were right up there to bash you over the head, but the prose was clunky and unconvincing and the narrative went from one outlandish catastrophe to the next without any chance to analyse and understand what was happening. I felt no compassion for Evelyn/Eve, Tristessa, Leilah, or any of the other characters, which I felt really hindered the novel’s message – how can a reader apply a novel’s themes or issues to their own life or understanding of the world if they can’t identify the humanity in the examples that they’re being given to work with?

I do think that Angela Carter has contributed some very important work to modern literature and to feminism, and maybe this novel is integral in a way that I’m not fully appreciating in isolation. I’m definitely going to read Wise Children soon, but I wouldn’t recommend The Passion of New Eve for a casual read.

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