Cover image for Brides of Eden : a true story imagined
Brides of Eden : a true story imagined
Crew, Linda.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
223 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
In this story based on true events, sixteen-year-old Eva and her female friends become obsessed with a charismatic young man who comes to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1904, claiming to be a Christian prophet.
Reading Level:
760 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 7.0 45701.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.5 12 Quiz: 28399 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


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Material Type
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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this story based on true events, sixteen-year-old Eva and her female friends become obsessed with a charismatic young man who comes to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1904, claiming to be a Christian prophet.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Basing her novel on a real incident, Crew "reimagines" the story of Eva Mae Hurt, a teenager whose life and family become enmeshed with the teachings of Joshua Creffield, a self-proclaimed messiah. Eva Mae is a member of the Salvation Army in Corvallis, Oregon. When Joshua joins the church, Eva, her older sister, Maud, and her mother, along with a number of other women, are attracted by his charismatic teachings and his blond good looks. Soon, Joshua has started his own church, and his revival meetings move his female parishion-ers--literally and figuratively--from their families and homes. The story is told in Eva Mae's first-person narrative, which is surprisingly distancing. Readers feel and understand Eva Mae's confused emotions, but Joshua never comes across as the magnetic personality he was. Still, this is a fascinating effort on many levels. Crew deftly explores religious fanaticism, group thought, and the psychology of victimization, at the same time weaving a strong tale. Small black-and-white period photos scattered throughout the text are an innovative touch, and the cover photograph of three "Brides of Eden," their long hair swinging free as Joshua required, will draw readers in. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

A native of Corvallis, Ore., Crew (Children of the River) turns to local history for the often bizarre plot of this strained novel set in 1903. Sixteen-year-old Eva Mae Hurt, an actual person who is fictionalized as this story's narrator, is active in the Salvation Army. When Franz Edmund Creffield, a handsome newcomer with "pale and piercing eyes," sets up his own ministry, Eva Mae and other girls become obsessed with him and his teachings ("Come away from the world and all its evils";"If you have money, give it to God"). Before long Creffield "issues a directive" that his followers throw their finery into bonfires and don strange-looking smock dresses. The tale then becomes a stew of oddities: The man takes them on an island retreat and announces that one girl will be chosen to be the "mother of the Second Christ" (Creffield will father the child), then has his way, sexually, with most, if not all, of them. Desperate relatives have various girls declared insane and sent to asylums for rehabilitation; girls are slowly "cured" but then relapse into worshipping Creffield. When suicides and murder ensue, they seem almost the most ordinary developments here. Unfortunately, in sticking to the facts of this real-life melodrama, Crew moves into the story too quickly to give Eva Mae and her fellow victims enough motivation for their utter vulnerability to Creffield. As a result, the events seem only weird, without much personal relevance or resonance for contemporary readers. Illustrated with black-and-white photos of key sites. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Based on a true story from Corvallis, OR, in about 1903-1906, Crew's novel credibly and engagingly describes the degrees by which common sense and sincere religious belief gradually can be subverted to fanaticism. Joshua, a decidedly handsome and charismatic preacher, convinces a few "Holy Disciples" that "There isn't a true Christian in this town outside of our group." Thus fortified, a core group of mostly female members of teenaged Eva Mae's extended family renounce their husbands, fianc‚s, educations, and their fashionable clothing in favor of plain smocks and spend a summer camped on an island with Joshua. He opposes the institution of marriage, and announces that one of them will become the second Mary, while he has been chosen to deliver the Holy Spirit. Eva Mae is one of several members of the group who answer his "call." The group grows increasingly insular, interpreting the townspeople's concern, scorn, and subsequent persecution as signs of the prophesied apocalypse. A series of charges, arrests, and commitments to institutions for those considered to be "mentally deranged by religion" culminates first in Joshua's conviction and imprisonment for adultery, and later in his murder by the brother of one of his converts. Further personal tragedy and emotional mayhem follow a litany of belief gone wrong. Fans of Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville's Armageddon Summer (Harcourt, 1998) will appreciate Crew's historically based novel, and most readers will find it dramatic, sobering, and sadly all too real.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.