It’s this question ('If that’s not love, what is?') that Feiler brilliantly explores...Feiler examines each particular and how these particulars are newly understood in each generation. In short, you get the Adam and Eve you deserve ... It’s the best sort of exegesis, with Feiler finding Adam and Eves all over the modern world ... Feiler plunges into this thicket with verve, intelligence and style. He’s done a miraculous thing, the literary equivalent of breathing life into a figure made of clay — taken a story I’ve been hearing since services were held in the old sanctuary and made me experience it again as if for the first time.
I was surprised to find The First Love Story working against my assumptions in the best ways. The author’s tone is iconoclastic and curious, not reverential and dour. Instead of examining a stale myth, Feiler shows how Adam and Eve have always been and continue to be mutable, rebooted through the ages to suit their times like comic book superheroes ... If all of this rooting through old stories and art sounds a bit dry, it isn’t. Feiler adeptly breaths life into what might have been a dusty intellectual history ... I sometimes wished he’d slow down and settle for a bit longer, though doing so might have yielded a Bible-length tome. The most powerful aspect of The First Love Story is how it positions Adam and Eve as role models for romantics and rebels both.
Throughout the book, Feiler makes a strong argument that Adam and Eve had an outsize influence on modern thinking about various facets of relationships ... Much of The First Love Story is spent swimming around in others’ interpretations of Adam and Eve. Perhaps because there is such precious little written about them in the Bible, Feiler had no choice but to plumb others’ thoughts on the matter ... And that, ultimately, is my quibble with this exhaustively researched, lyrically written book. So many pages are spent arguing that Adam and Eve are meaningful to modern readers, but precious few are spent conveying that practical relevance. So the book can get bogged down ... The First Love Story is not a foolproof guide on how to succeed in love. But it will make readers want to try.
Feiler takes the reader on an engaging meander in search of the first family’s transcendent meaning. His itinerary encompasses the Middle East and the Galapagos, Biblical scholars and anthropologists, and the likes of Michelangelo, Mark Twain and Mae West. It's a thought-provoking odyssey, and by its end it is hard not to nod in agreement with the author’s conclusions, such as 'There is no love without time' or 'Instead of censuring them (Adam and Eve), we should be celebrating them.' Conversant with Scripture, Feiler can make a single word dance before the reader.
...a fascinating treatise on the impact of Adam and Eve on human thought in the Western world ... Feiler weaves in his thesis that Adam was incomplete without Eve and vice versa. From that he concludes that all human beings are incomplete without loving others. This isn’t an original thought, but Feiler’s interpretations of the works of writers, scholars, priests and rabbis — since the story was believed to be written down about the sixth century B.C. and passed on in oral tradition before that — establish that Adam and Eve are very much with us today ... Missing from this book is an exploration of the people who told and retold the Genesis story, as well as those who wrote it down and created the foundation of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. That could be Feiler’s next adventure in print.
While some of the insights are expected and cover well-trod ground, such as his discussions of Michelangelo and other artists, others are surprising and open trajectories into popular culture ... Taking the oldest story of romance and giving it a new gloss, this book may be Feiler’s best work yet. A wonderfully readable, powerfully presented look into the influence of the original love.
Although torn from the start about whether Adam and Eve were flesh-and-blood individuals or mythical creations, Feiler seems to lean toward the former throughout his exploration, which is impressively wide-ranging but repetitive to a fault ... The repetition revolves around Feiler’s insistence, in somewhat varied words in each chapter, that the couple invented and defined love—both at the guidance of God and somewhat independently of God. At times, he comes across as a college debater trying overly hard to prove points that are impossible to prove. Despite the sometimes-exhausting repetition, Feiler provides a fascinating look at why Adam and Eve matter in understanding couples today.