Brides of Eden: A True Story Imagined

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9780060287504: Brides of Eden: A True Story Imagined

I felt a tingling going through me and I fell to the floor with the others. Such a crying and a wailing, and all our private anguishes emptying from us, rushing forth, like a creek into a river, and all the rivers to the ocean. The window glass vibrated with the stomping of the floor and the pounding of the benches, like breakers on the shore, and the holy power of Joshua filled that room to where it seemed the very walls would crash into splinters at his command.

Corvallis, Oregon, is a sleepy town in 1903. An ordinary town.

Then Joshua arrives, and nothing will ever be the same again. A young and charismatic preacher, Joshua wins converts to his fiery brand of Christianity and casts his spell over the town's young women. Insisting on simplicity, he commands them to burn their worldly possessions. Demanding devotion to Christ, he tells them to abandon their domestic duties.

But strange rumors begin to surface, and the smoldering suspicions of the fathers and sweethearts of Joshua's devoted followers soon explode into rage. Before it's all over, families will be torn apart and lives will be lost.

In this true, stranger-than-fiction tale, sixteen-year-old Eva Mae tells of the excitement and horror of being swept up in a group bearing an uncanny resemblance to contemporary "End Time" cults. Her gripping story reminds us that no one is entirely immune to the power of a single charismatic voice heard at a vulnerable time.

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Review:

Many of the citizens of Corvallis, Oregon, hope that the handsome, fervent drifter who claims to have God's ear will continue on his spiritual journey--right on out of town. But its young people, especially 16-year-old Eva Mae Hurt, are completely entranced by itinerant preacher Joshua Creffield. From the first time she sees Joshua in 1903, Eva Mae feels "absolutely riveted." Her feelings are shared by other young women, who follow Joshua unhesitatingly. They listen to his end-of-the-world sermons in a state of ecstasy, confident in their "chosen" status. But Eva is troubled by Joshua's unreasonable rules and the "secret rites" he performs with his "brides of Eden" alone in his tent. Swept up in his wonderful and terrible vision, Eva Mae loses almost everything before she is able to break free of the bindings of Joshua's brainwashing.

Based on historical events, Brides of Eden is strongly written and deeply felt. Using Eva Mae's voice, Crew captures perfectly not only the spell of fanaticism, but also the difficulty in readjusting to everyday life: "If you've felt yourself to be center stage in a great drama, a thrilling story which might, on any given day, climax with your ascension into the clouds, it's not so easy to return to your old place in the real world." Older teens will identify with Eva Mae's aching need to belong to this exclusive group and will be fascinated by this portrait of extremism parallel to the Heaven's Gate and Branch Davidian cults of their time. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

About the Author:

As a native of Corvallis, Oregon, Linda Crew has long been aware of the story of Joshua and the "Holy Roller" cult, a part of the town's lore which is often reprinted in the local papers when some new cult tragedy makes headlines elsewhere in the world.

A graduate of the University of Oregon, Crew is the author of Fire on the Wind, Long Time Passing, and the award-winning Children of the River. She lives at Wake Robin Farm, in Corvallis With her husband and children.

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