House of Eve, a review by Di

posted in: 5 star read, Di | 0

Sadiqa Johnson

Simon and Schuster Canada
February 7, 2023
384 Pages | Goodreads | Amazon

I chose to read this book because I very much enjoyed this author’s previous book, The Yellow Wife. And, I love the cover. I have long maintained that you CAN judge many books by their cover.

It starts off in 1948, which makes it a historical novel. It starts out with 2 parallel stories, one narrated by Ruby, the other by Eleanor. There does not seem to be a connection between the two, but the reader can assume that there will be. Both young ladies want to better the lives they were born into and have set high goals for themselves. Both want to further their education. Both want to be accepted for who they are. Both are dealing with racism, which was rampant in the mid-20th century. And both of their lives take an unexpected direction.

I enjoyed the characters of Ruby and Eleanor, equally. While each of them was totally unique in personality, they were also the same in their strength and determination. There were many interesting side characters. There is William and Shimmy, the love interests of each girl respectively, Ruby’s Aunt Marie who was truly a diamond in the rough, Ruby’s mother Inez is a piece of work as are the mothers of William and Shitty. Every book needs characters that the reader can admire as well as characters that are easy to hate!

It is easy to figure out about halfway through how the connection between the two women was going to come about. But that does not detract from the progression of the story.

Many themes are covered in the story: racism, sexuality, pregnancy, loss of a child, adoption, abuse, determination, choices and consequences. These are in no particular order but they all blend to make a very compelling story. Ms. Johnson does an excellent job of telling us a cohesive and compelling tale. I was just over halfway through the book when I knew that it rates 5 stars.

I am so thankful to authors that write historical fiction. They create a very easy means of learning about earlier times and social issues. While the setting of this book is 70 years ago, it is still very relevant. All of us are familiar with racism, but when a picture of actual experiences is drawn with words, it makes an indelible imprint on our minds.

I love the ending. The only word I can think of to describe it is SUBTLE. Also very suitable. I also loved that there is an Epilogue that takes the reader forward by 14 years. I often wonder what happens to the characters after the book ends. This Epilogue takes my uncertainty away.

Ms. Johnson adds Author’s Notes at the end. She explains where the storyline came from. She also explains the parallels to her family history.

Excellent read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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