The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley is a debut novel by this author. It is one of those rare books whose characters stay with you, haunt you, long after the last page has been read. The main character is Evelyn Roe, a teenager when World War II comes to a close. She and her family, like so many others are struggling to make ends meet as the war draws to and end. They live in a small town where the main employer is a mill, which is where you will find may of the townsfolk working to make a living. Unlike so many others, however, Evelyn's family has the good fortune of having a family member who owns a farm. The crops they grow help the entire family make it through the year. The family helps as much as they can, but work in the mill is no less exhausting or time consuming, so it's only on Saturdays that Evelyn has help. The aunt who owns the farm has always been very special to Evelyn. From the time she was little more than a toddler, she would find her way to the farm and work beside her cousins and her aunt. There is something in the soil itself that draws some to want to work it, and magic in watching rows of plants grow, and become delicious fruits and vegetables. There is a strong satisfaction in working in a steamy kitchen for hours and then standing back to admire the rows and rows of food that you have put up, shoulder to shoulder with others in the family. Knowing that your efforts, together with the generosity of Mother Earth will nourish those you love throughout the cold months of winter. Magic too, in opening those jars and suddenly catching a whiff of summer or fall, which somehow always makes its way into the jars with the apples and tomatoes and berries. The death of her aunt, after losing her sons to the war places the farm into young Evelyn's capable hands. She moves into the farmhouse on her own, as she is the one who has always loved it and worked it. The work is hard, and many today would find it overwhelming, she manages. Then one day, during a downpour which she watched as carefully as any farmer, always thinking of how it would affect her crops and her home, she went out to investigate where the runoff was headed. It was then she found what at first glance seemed to be a lifeless body. She soon realized that there was still life in this person, naked and covered in mud. A soldier she thought, badly burned, naked, bald and cold. But healing was quick with good care and food. Things are not always as they seem. This is how we are introduced to Addie. Addie, who seemed to have a mystical connection with animals, and who developed a deep connection with Evelyn. Sharing the work of the farm became more than hard work, since they had each other and the charismatic Addie clearly had a connection to the family, anyone looking at her could see that. Life was good. Evelyn and Addie begin to work together, farming and taking on new challenges. Addie is welcomed warmly by all, and soon it seems as if she has always been there, part of the family, a familiar face in town. The thing about life is that it changes. Has ups and downs, good times and bad. One day Addie went away and never returned. That was one of the bad times. But soon after she left, Adam turned up at the farm. Adam Hope. Adam might be described as the silver lining following the cloud that the loss of Addie left behind. Then things get even more interesting.