As touching as it is humorous, The Garden of Eden is a parable for our time with a powerful and ultimately redemptive ending that speaks to oft underappreciated virtues such as loyalty (sticking with those you love even when they screw up royally), tolerance, and forgiveness. It's also about the values that keep America together--the simple solutions ordinary people find to keep their small communities strong.
Trooper Sam Neely is fresh out of the State Police academy and finds himself assigned to the dullest backwater town he's never heard of. Things heat up quickly in Eden, U.S.A., however, when Ed Harris, the banker, finds his wife in bed with his best friend, Hayden Elkins. Ed picks up a shotgun, escorts them both to the door, and tells friend Hayden, "Guess what? She's yours!"
"I've got a wife, Ed," says Hayden.
"Now you have two. . . ."
Forced to take his paramour to live under his own roof (after all, they had only intended to share an afternoon of delight, not to leave their spouses), Hayden suddenly finds himself the butt of every joke in town.
That's where things start to spin out of control.
Before long, Elijah Murphy, the town drunk, and the snooping widow next door, to whom he'd exposed himself, are falling in love; sleazy Sheriff's Deputy Delmar Clay is about to get a butt-full of birdshot for the pictures he's been snapping of young couples getting hot and heavy in parked cars; and the Barrow Boys are out of jail and looking for trouble. Soon, Neely finds that managing the crises in the sticks is a full-time job, and it takes a whole community--from the compassionate local magistrate to the new female preacher--to keep things from exploding big-city style.
Eden, U.S.A., is the sort of agreeable, homey fictional landscape where reliable, bighearted men live alongside earthy, loyal women if in sometimes unconventional domestic arrangements. When banker Ed Harris discovers his wife, Anne, in bed with his best friend, town prosecutor Hayden Elkins, Ed, in his typical stoic but droll style, sends Anne home with Hayden to become his "second wife." ("You and your damned peter!" hollers his first, to whom Hayden's still married.) The setup is the center of a rambling, generous excavation of numerous plot lines by the pseudonymous Adams. The likable, eccentric ensemble includes the town's first female preacher, who has a preternatural ability to help people emerge from their troubles; the boyish, strapping manager of the town junkyard whose terror over getting married is driving his longtime girlfriend to distraction; the rookie police trooper bewildered to find himself assigned to this "rusticated nowhere"; and the gentle town drunk who strives to better himself when he catches a glimpse of romantic possibility with his widowed neighbor. The book's pleasing benignity is not marred by its occasional predictability, and Adams's understated humor and generous spirit make this a comforting story of lessons being learned, demons getting laid to rest and good guys winning.