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.
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.
|Publisher : 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