The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter

1977 Club
I’m participating in The 1977 Club this week which is hosted by Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon at Stuck in a Book. I’m also reading The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carre, but I still have 100 or so pages of that one to read.

The Passion of New Eve cover

The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter was first published in 1977, which is why I read it. It really isn’t my sort of book. It’s well enough written but is extremely weird and I suppose when it was written it was hailed as some sort of feminist wonder read. Each to their own. I suspect the author had recently visited the US and she just let her imagination run wild into a future it could be heading for.

Evelyn (a man) lives in London but by chapter two he has travelled to New York, a place that all of his American friends had warned him about. It’s a lot worse than he could have imagined though as society has completely broken down and it’s mayhem, it’s a bit of a civil war situation and everyone’s out for themselves. After some adventures Evelyn decides it might be safer outside the city, but that’s when all his troubles really begin.

After getting lost in the desert he’s kidnapped by a young woman, taken back to an underground society of women headed by a large multi-breasted fertility goddess who performs a sex change on him – hey presto, now Evelyn is Eve.

After escaping from there he/she ends up at the home of Zero who’s a one-legged, one-eyed pirate type who has seven young female followers, they’re all supposed to be his wives and he decides that Eve will be his eighth, she has no say in the matter. This part seems a bit Manson family-ish and that had certainly been in the news not long previously. Bizarrely Zero blames an old movie actress called Tristessa for his infertility and he thinks she lives somewhere in the desert. He uses his helicopter to track her down and things get even weirder. Eventually Eve ends up in the hands of a heavily armed army of right-wing supposedly Christian schoolboys and paedophilia is added to the mix.

There’s a lot more of course but I’ve already written more than I usually do about the storyline of a book. In this book gender is flexible and I suppose in its day that was a strange thought, but now it seems that it’s quite common for people to choose which gender they want to be. I’m just not that interested as I think of people as people not a sex.

So this was a weird read by an author who nicked ideas from various places, it might have shocked readers back in the day but as often happens with science- fiction some things have just about caught up with it.

This is the first book by Angela Carter that I’ve read but I have a few more in the house so I’ll eventually give her another go – sometime.

Thanks Kaggsy and Simon for setting this up.

11 thoughts on “The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter

  1. I don’t think this would be for me either. I haven’t got on very well with Angela Carter’s books in the past, although I did quite enjoy her book of fairy tale retellings, The Bloody Chamber, a few years ago. I’ll look forward to hearing about your other 1977 book.

    • Helen,
      I’m glad that I’m not the only one to be less than impressed by her books. Some people seem to adore her though. The next 1977 read is An Honourable Schoolboy.

  2. Pingback: The 1977 Club starts today! – Stuck in a Book

  3. THE PASSION OF NEW EVE was the first Carter book that I read, in the summer of 2017. Its (satirical) ultra-feminist tone annoyed me at first, but I have come to appreciate it as a great exercise in the fantastic imagination, especially after having read all her novels and collected stories. However, if you are hoping for less weirdness, then I am afraid Carter will disappoint you. She is the Queen of Lurid Weirdness, and an unflinching explorer of the darkly glittering subconscious. Carter is an acquired taste, but novels like NEW EVE, THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN, and NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS, alongside THE BLOODY CHAMBER, are masterpieces

    • Liam Garriock,

      I still have copies of Nights at the Circus and The Magic Toyshop to read and I’ll get around to them sometime. I still think that nothing dates as quickly as SF/futuristic books though and I doubt if her books are as shocking as they must have been when first published. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.
      Regards, Katrina

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