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The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope: A Novel

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope: A Novel

3.8 54
by Rhonda Riley

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The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is an unconventional and passionately romantic love story that is as breathtaking and wondrous as The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

During WWII, teenager Evelyn Roe is sent to manage the family farm in rural North Carolina, where she finds what she takes to be a badly burned


The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is an unconventional and passionately romantic love story that is as breathtaking and wondrous as The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

During WWII, teenager Evelyn Roe is sent to manage the family farm in rural North Carolina, where she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier on their property. She rescues him, and it quickly becomes clear he is not a man…and not one of us. The rescued body recovers at an unnatural speed, and just as fast, Evelyn and Adam fall deeply in love.

In The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, Rhonda Riley reveals the exhilarating, terrifying mystery inherent in all relationships: No matter how deeply we love someone, and no matter how much we will sacrifice for them, we can only know them so well…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Riley’s debut novel fuses a lyrical, tender love story with a sophisticated depiction of a supernatural sentient being. When 17-year-old Evelyn Roe discovers what appears to be a naked man buried in the mud of her aunt’s North Carolina farm, she’s bewildered by the figure’s grotesque features, indeterminate sex, and strange vocalizations. Within a few days the mysterious figure transforms into a tall, red-haired woman, nearly Evelyn’s identical twin. Evelyn names her Addie and passes her off as a cousin. Their friendship becomes sexual, but Evelyn wants a conventional life, so Addie seduces a passing stranger, assumes his likeness, and reappears to become Evelyn’s mate, Adam. They settle down, produce five daughters, and lead an idyllic life on the farm. However, when one daughter dies in a tragic accident, the manner of Adam’s grief alerts the small community that he is “not one of us.” In fear, the family flee to Florida where they resume domestic harmony. Passing years take a physical toll on Evelyn but not Adam, whose revelations lead to a poignant denouement. Riley sometimes overdoes the quotidian minutiae of farm life, but succeeds both in getting the reader to suspend disbelief and fashioning a compelling story. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)
Julianna Baggott
“An incredible, otherworldly love story...[that] reads with the urgency of a lifelong secret finally confessed.”
Shelf Awareness
“Folkloric elements blend with pure romance in Rhonda Riley’s startling The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, a debut novel that raises questions about how well we ever know our loved ones—and whether it even matters….Riley’s unusual meditation on the private worlds we build to shelter our partners and our children is written with earthiness and deep appreciation for the power of the land…. Both dreamily erotic and filled with the relatable minutiae of day-to-day life
Lauren Groff
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is strange and powerful, a hybrid work that’s part Alice Munro, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and entirely, marvelously, itself. In her debut novel, Rhonda Riley has written the most resonant and touching love story I’ve read in a very long time.”
“Enhanced by gorgeous depictions, THE ENCHANTED LIFE OF ADAM HOPE evokes the wonder of being alive, of loving, of finding one’s home. By the end, it feels like you have truly listened in on a life. This should be one of 2013’s most deserving hits.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope creates a world in which the reader will encounter the full spectrum of emotions… This stunningly beautiful and unforgettable novel, a testament to the possibilities and triumph of love, find a permanent home in the reader’s heart.”
Library Journal
Narrator Evelyn Roe looks back on her decades-long life with beloved husband Adam, their houseful of beautiful daughters, and the stunning secret of Adam's genesis that defined their marriage and nearly derailed it. In 1944, 17-year-old Evelyn inherited her aunt's North Carolina farm and thrived in the solitude and hard work. Three years later, in the midst of a driving rainstorm, Evelyn finds a nearly dead something half-buried in the mud. She's shocked to find that the being is not human but rather a shapeless life form that quickly morphs into an Evelyn lookalike whom Evelyn names Addie. The women hide their developing sensual, loving relationship from family and neighbors until Evelyn's biological clock cannot be ignored. A timely visit from a grifter provides Addie the cover she needs to leave for a while, returning as a newly morphed grifter-clone whom Evelyn renames Adam. Falling in love anew, they raise a family until tragedy almost destroys all that is precious. VERDICT First-time novelist Riley's exquisite language draws the reader into this improbable, beautifully rendered, somewhat biblical love story with a wildly imaginative premise that is irresistible, tender, and provocative.—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews
A husband literally made in the image of others teaches Evelyn Roe about enduring love and the equally enduring human distrust of difference in Riley's debut. On a rainy morning in early 1947, 19-year-old Evelyn stumbles across a mud-encrusted body on her family's farm. She assumes this oddly misshapen, seemingly scorched being is a wounded veteran--until "he" begins morphing into a female who looks spookily like Evelyn. She's not afraid of this gentle alien--indeed, the two begin a passionate sexual relationship rooted in the visitor's extraordinarily empathetic touch and voice--but terrified of what would happen if its true nature were discovered in close-minded North Carolina. Evelyn introduces everyone to a long-lost cousin named Addie, and life continues tranquilly until Addie senses Evelyn's longing for a child. She disappears one night with a roving drunk and returns two weeks later looking just like the man. Now Evelyn can marry her soul mate, renamed Adam Hope, and enjoy blissful domesticity on the farm. They have a near-escape from detection when twins Jennie and Lillian are delivered in the hospital and doctors, baffled by their amorphous appearance, want to run tests, but Evelyn and Adam whisk them home to speedily acquire their mother's entirely human appearance, just as their home-born sisters did. The danger is greater when Adam lands in the hospital, and the family decides to move to Florida. The narrative speeds up at this point as the girls enter adolescence and Evelyn enters middle age, but Adam's ever-young appearance again threatens them with discovery. His exit is as mysterious as his entrance, and this is the book's underlying problem. If Addie/Adam had any notion where s/he came from, or if Evelyn's love was ever shaken by any real conflicts, this sweet but rather anodyne tale would gain some needed bite. As is, despite a few asides on racism, it's basically a romance with E.T. trimmings. Well-written and stocked with many strong characterizations, but fuzzy in plotting and theme.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are Saying About This

Julianna Baggott
“An incredible, otherworldly love story...[that] reads with the urgency of a lifelong secret finally confessed.”

Meet the Author

Rhonda Riley is a graduate of the creative writing program at the University of Florida. This is her first novel. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

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The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Almost-Tica More than 1 year ago
One of the most interesting and different books I've read in a long while--definitely worth the buy.  Although the back cover mentions similarities to authors such as García-Márquez, I find it much more like the fantastic genre of Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar because of the permeating sense of "doubt" inspired by the title character throughout the story. I liked the setting, the plot complexity, and the characters.  The novel is very well-written and parts of the prose are really beautiful.  The only thing that disappointed me was the ending, which seems simplistic and too convenient a way to just finish things up.  It doesn´t seem to "go with" the multi-dimensional character the novel has had throughout.  Still, I find myself thinking about this story and asking lots of whys, hows, and what ifs--and that is definitely one of the marks of a good book! 
versatilereader More than 1 year ago
Just by reading the description of the book, I knew that this was going to be a book that was going to be something unique. I am so glad to be reading this book at the moment. The author has done a great job in her debut novel to combine fact/fiction/sci-fi into one compelling read. The characters are unique in a realistic and an unrealistical way which makes the read a compelling one. I like the plot and have enjoyed the turns and twists that the author has chosen to include in her writing. If you like to read books that are unexpected from start to finish, then "The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope" is a book that you should be considering for your summer reading. Keep on reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings An interesting combination of historical fiction and a little bit of sci-fi which took me out of my comfort zone, but I definitely enjoyed the gentle nudge.  Set during WWII and ending in the 1970s, this book takes the reader on a tour of history through the eyes of one family as they live with an extraordinary secret.  
CMKmom More than 1 year ago
This is a fantasy type story. It held my interest and was well-written, but not really my cuppa tea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to any reader. I was skeptical at first when I received a proof of this book, but after the first few pages I could not put this down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Happy, sad and sweet with people you could really feel something for. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book just sucked me in! I will agree with one of the other reviewers in that it covers some topics that some people might be uncomfortable with. But I think it was just a beautiful love story. Sure it was a little far-fetched but it's fiction, for heavens sake. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader I'm always interested in new authors and Riley did not disappoint . This text is magical, romantic and heart breaking. I encourage you to get lost in Adam Hope's journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a strange book. I guess if you like sci-fi you might like it. I liked the characters, I just couldn't get into the story.
WhoDoneItDC More than 1 year ago
I generally prefer crime novels, but I loved this story. The characters are well-drawn. The pacing kept me engaged. Take a chance on this unusual story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked this. Kind of weird.There was that lesbian love affair part I didnt like and thought it didnt need to be part of the story. Would have given this 5stars,if not for that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a little strange at first. If you stick with it you'll be moved by the beautiful story of love, loss and family ties. One of the most moving novels I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stayed up all night reading this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The way she uses words is magic. Please write more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not your traditional love story. I would read another book by this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was over the top for me and it was really hard to get through the last 100 pages. I also did not like the ending. Wouldn't recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very unusual read that I absolutely hated to put down. It may not be what you expect but well worth your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Refreshing to find a unique story so well written. Moving, surprising and, yes, enchanting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read. It will stick with me for a very long time. Thank you Rhonda Riley, I adored it.
SUEHAV 3 days ago
Loved it from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has never happened to me, but I threw the towel in and stopped reading. I just didn't like it. Although, I like the author's style of writting, so I will look up any other work from her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maertel More than 1 year ago
Enchanted Life is a welcome blend of many genres, from the erotic to the fantastic. It would have been a Great Five Star book if Evelyn had about a third less hand-wringing and if Adam had stayed true to him/herself and his beloved family and had made a conscious choice to re-enter The Earth. The Where'd he go? - did he really stupidly dive too deep or far? - if he wasn't getting old, then how could he die? - or did he? If he did not, then his love for his family turns out to be pretty hollow and unexpected -even when he allowed himself to be so overwhelmed by grief and guilt that he would just simply disappear. Geez - leave a note... And, what of his legacy? Do his daughters develop their voices? Okay, the characters (mostly) accept that he is "gone," but what if he actually found a route to a new beginning and comes back in a sequel as the Best Rescue Dog Ever...who makes a decision not to shape change ... until ...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago