The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

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In The House of Eve, Ruby Pearsall is determined to be the first in her family to attend college, despite her mother’s preoccupation with finding a man. However, a forbidden love affair threatens to derail her dreams and condemn her to the poverty and despair that she inherited. Meanwhile, Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, carrying secrets and aspirations. She falls in love with William Pride, a member of one of the city’s wealthy Black families, but his parents are picky about who they allow into their circle. Ruby and Eleanor’s paths unexpectedly intersect, and they must make decisions that will determine the course of their lives.

Book review The House of Eve

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is a compelling historical fiction novel that explores the lives of two young black women facing unplanned pregnancies in 1950s Philadelphia, before Roe v. Wade. As a fan of Johnson’s debut novel, Yellow Wife, I was excited to dive into this story, and I was not disappointed.

The novel follows the stories of two women, Ruby Pearsall and Eleanor Quarles, who come from very different backgrounds but share a similar struggle. Ruby is a bright and ambitious teenager who dreams of going to college and escaping the cycle of poverty and desperation that her mother has been perpetuating. However, when she becomes pregnant, her plans are thrown into disarray, and she must navigate the difficult and often cruel world of unwed mothers in 1950s America.

Eleanor, on the other hand, is a young woman with big ambitions and a secret past. When she falls in love with William Pride, a handsome young man from a wealthy and influential black family, she hopes that having a baby will help her fit in with his family and finally give her the life she’s always wanted. However, when she discovers that she is unable to carry a child to term, she must face the harsh reality of her situation and find a way to move forward.

One of the things I loved about this book was the way that Johnson brought these characters to life. Ruby and Eleanor are both complex and well-rounded, with their own hopes, dreams, and struggles. They are easy to root for and to empathize with, even when they make difficult or unpopular decisions. I found myself completely invested in their stories and eager to see how things would turn out for them.

In addition to the compelling characters, The House of Eve also offers a vivid and nuanced portrayal of life in 1950s America, particularly for black women. Johnson does an excellent job of showing the many ways in which class, race, and gender intersected to create difficult and often oppressive circumstances for her characters. From the pressures of respectability politics to the limitations of a society that did not value the lives of unwed mothers, the novel paints a vivid and compelling picture of the challenges faced by women like Ruby and Eleanor.

While the book is not without its flaws, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read. The writing is not always perfect, with some cliches and weak descriptions, but the story itself is strong enough to make up for any shortcomings.

Final verdict:

In conclusion, The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is a captivating historical fiction novel that tells the stories of two young black women grappling with unplanned pregnancies in 1950s Philadelphia. Johnson’s characters are complex and relatable, and she skillfully weaves together themes of race, class, and gender to create a vivid and nuanced portrayal of life in mid-century America.

Our Score


  • Compelling characters: The two main characters, Ruby and Eleanor, are complex and well-rounded, making it easy for readers to empathize with their struggles and root for them throughout the story.
  • Nuanced portrayal of 1950s America: The House of Eve offers a vivid and nuanced portrayal of life in 1950s America, particularly for black women, shedding light on the challenges and limitations faced by women like Ruby and Eleanor due to their race, class, and gender.
  • Engaging storytelling: The House of Eve is an engaging and emotionally resonant historical fiction novel, with a strong and well-developed plot that keeps readers invested in the story from beginning to end.


  • Weak writing in some areas: While the story itself is strong, the writing is not always perfect, with some cliches and weak descriptions that may detract from the overall reading experience.
  • Heavy subject matter: The House of Eve deals with heavy subject matter such as unplanned pregnancies, societal expectations, and the oppression faced by black women in 1950s America, which may not be suitable for all readers.
  • Lack of diverse perspectives: While the novel provides a nuanced portrayal of the experiences of black women in 1950s America, it lacks diverse perspectives and does not explore the experiences of other marginalized groups during this time period.
The House of EvePublisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster (February 7, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982197366
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982197360
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.19 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches

About Article Author

Jenna Carter

Jenna Carter spends most of her time immersed in the imaginary worlds that authors construct. Her favorite place in the world is a library full of old books where she hopes to one day find a hidden door to the world of Narnia.
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