- W.W. Norton & Company
April 6, 2015
- September 11, 2018
Set in nineteenth-century New England, this exquisite novel tests a woman’s love against her husband’s utopian quest.
Sophy Hedge, the daughter of the town minister, falls in love with Gideon Birdsall, a gifted theology student assisting her father with a Hebrew lexicon. Sophy, an amateur artist, is drawn to his angelic looks, which seem to embody his intellect, passion, and idealism, while Gideon glimpses in her a child of nature unbound by convention. Yet after they wed, Gideon’s restlessness worries her, and she struggles to connect with him as he flounders in his new roles of pastor and family head. When the mysterious and magnetic teacher Leander Solloway enters their lives, Gideon believes he has found a like soul. As the schoolmaster gains influence over her husband, a newly pregnant Sophy translates her fears into secret paintings.
In a daring experiment to unlock the mysteries of the first language, the primal tongue spoken in the Garden of Eden, Gideon and Leander attempt to recreate a pristine and tightly controlled environment in which to raise the baby. Isolated from the influence of family and neighbors, they hope to witness the genesis of a pure speech while “raising up this fallen garden by the same means as it was created: word by word.” But “Paradise is a worm that eats at the brain,” and Sophy, unaware of their intentions until it is too late, must decide whether to live in the world her husband has made or escape to save her child and herself.
Addressing the timeless issues of creation, possession, and the elusive dream of perfection, The Language of Paradise captures the fragility of human longing.
Praise for The Language of Paradise
‟In her ambitious, and painstakingly researched, debut novel, Ms. Moss takes the reader on a compelling journey into 1830s New England, in which repressive Calvinism runs headlong into a Transcendentalist quest to find an elusive utopia right here on Earth…. (A) precocious and bold first novel…”
- W.W. Norton & Company
January 28, 2005
- January 28, 2005
These eight magical stories address the Edenic spaces that people create in their lives and the serpents that subtly inhabit them. In “Rug Weaver” (selected for Best American Short Stories 2001) an Iranian rug dealer makes a paradise of his prison cell by weaving an elaborate rug in his mind. Grieving parents in the title story transfigure a luxury subdivision in southern California into a vision of heaven. And in the novella “The Palm Tree of Dilys Cathcart” an unlikely love story unfolds between an Orthodox Jewish butcher and a lonely English piano teacher, who discovers a hunger for intimacy and ritual as she helps the butcher transcribe the mysterious songs he hears in his head. These and other stories constitute an elegant and richly evocative collection about the complexities of worldly and spiritual desires.
Praise for Little Edens: Stories
‟With Little Edens, Barbara Klein Moss seems to have come into the world full-blown. These stories, beautifully balanced and assured, are filled with wisdom, humor, sadness, and love. The concluding novella is magnificent. The sturdy, elegant structure, the building eroticism and the way that weaves so seamlessly into the mysticism — well, it is utterly memorable.”