Judith D Collins
The House of Eve
By: Sadeqa Johnson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 02/07/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars ++ (ARC)
BLACK HISTORY MONTH PICK
From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring, beautiful, and redemptive novel that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.
1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.
Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his parents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.
With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.
Buy the Book
The award-winning author Sadeqa Johnson returns following Yellow Wife with a meticulously researched, heartfelt, tragic, and moving tale —HOUSE OF EVE —two courageous black women in the 1950s whose lives connect in unexpected ways, inspired by a true story.
Set in the 1950s, we meet two intelligent young black women, Ruby and Eleanor, from different worlds. Told from Ruby and Eleanor's POVs.
Meet 15-year-old Ruby in Philadephia. She is smart and on track to be the first in her family to attend college. She hopes to win a scholarship to attend university and become an ophthalmologist. Her mother is not supportive and she moves in with her Aunt Marie. There she meets a young white Jewish boy, Shimmy. She becomes pregnant. His family (the mother) is unhappy and makes arrangements for her to go to a home for unwed girls to get her scholarship.
Meet Eleanor, from a small town in Ohio, who arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. She wants to major in history and become a library archivist. At Howard University, she meets and falls in love with a wealthy medical student, William. With an unexpected pregnancy, she hopes that she will fit in. However, they do not let just anyone into their family.
Both these women have dreams and are disappointed by what life throws their way. Both face life-altering decisions of motherhood, class, racism, color, ambition, shame, prejudice, and forbidden love.
I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Your heart will go out to these young women, especially Ruby, in the horrible home that treated all the girls badly and offered them little choice about their lives, babies, and bodies. Unlike the brochures advertised.
Eleanor was desperate to have a baby and loved her tenacity at the end, which was quite humorous. I loved how the two stories connected.
Sadeqa Johnson is a master storyteller, and I believe I loved this one even more than her last book. She grabs you from the first page and holds you until the satisfying conclusion. Her characters come alive on the page. They will linger long after the book ends.
Fully immersive, I enjoyed reading the AUTHOR'S NOTE, her personal story (the inspiration for the book), and how her grandmother became pregnant with her mother when she was only 14 years old. The reimaging and what if there were homes for unwed mothers for Black girls like her grandmother.
HOUSE OF EVE is a timely, redemptive, powerful, beautifully written, yet haunting novel of resilience and sacrifices women make for themselves and their families.
I highly recommend—Top Books of 2023. For fans of the author Diane Chamberlain.
Thank you to #SimonandSchuster and #NetGalley for a gifted e-ARC. I also purchased the hardcover copy.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustRead Books
My Rating: 5 Stars ++
Pub Date: Feb 7, 2023
Feb 2023 Must-Read Books Top Books of 2023
From the Award-Winning Author of Yellow Wife, Author Sadeqa Johnson Discusses Her New Novel, The House of Eve. Interview
Reese’s Book Club pick for February!
"This is a moving work of women’s fiction with timely perspective on racism, colorism, and pre-Roe women’s rights in the United States of the 1950s. Fans of Tayari Jones, Brit Bennett, and Jeni McFarland will want to check it out."
“Johnson’s suspenseful and thought-provoking latest follows two young Black women as they separately navigate mid-20th century America…. This well-crafted work is bound to provoke discussion among readers about the conflicts women face regarding pregnancy.”
"Johnson showcases the difficult boundaries of race, class, and education as she explores the obstacles and consequences that confront those who seek to cross them."
“Sadeqa Johnson is an expert at excavating the parts of the past that we would rather not confront. She dusts off these harrowing histories, shines them up, and gives them their proper glory. She mines this terrain with soaring grace, shining intellect, and a love that resonates on every page. Thanks to Johnson's enviable ability to craft narratives that not only educate and elucidate, but also enamor, the stories of Ruby and Eleanor, and the Ancestors and Elders they represent, will remain with me always. The House of Eve is a powerful witnessing, an indispensable testimony, and a remarkable addition to Johnson's already stunning bibliography.”
—ROBERT JONES, JR., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets
“The House of Eve is a gorgeous, timely novel about the price that women pay for love. Eleanor and Ruby must choose between passion and safety, studies or motherhood, and painful situations or convenient lies. I ached for this book’s characters and savored this brilliant, deeply-researched novel about courage, coverups, and choices that no one should have to make.”
—JANET SKESLIEN CHARLES, author of New York Times bestseller The Paris Library
"Sadeqa Johnson has a unique talent for shining light on lesser-known chapters of American history and bringing them fully, vibrantly to life. In The House of Eve, she paints a vivid world of circumstance, sacrifice, and longing, set just before the dawn of rock'n'roll in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. With pitch-perfect dialogue, intricately researched details, and a tender exploration of the hearts of two women facing life-altering decisions, The House of Eve is an unforgettable tale of motherhood, ambition, the perils of prejudice, and the heartache of forbidden love."
—KRISTIN HARMEL, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
“Full of immense heart, The House of Eve is a profound exploration of what it means to be a woman and mother in a world that can’t and won’t support you. This is a novel born of Johnson’s family history, a remarkable story re-imagined with grace, truth and powerful love. With the true and fascinating history of women who changed the world amid prejudice, shame and forbidden love, Johnson has gifted us with an enthralling novel that will leave an indelible imprint on our hearts and minds. I loved this book.”
—PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea
“I don’t know where to begin with the brilliantly written House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson. There were so many twists and turns, so many heart-palpitating moments—I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. House of Eve is one of those novels that will stay with you long after you read the last page."
—VICTORIA CHRISTOPHER MURRARY, New York Times bestselling author of The Personal Librarian
About the Author
Sadeqa Johnson, a former public relations manager, spent several years working with well-known authors such as J.K. Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop T.D. Jakes before becoming an author herself. She is the international best-selling author of four novels and the recipient of the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award and the USA Best Book Award for best fiction.
Her most recent novel, Yellow Wife, was named by Oprah Magazine as "27 of 2021 Most Anticipated Winter Historical Fiction books." Yellow Wife was also a 2021 Goodreads Choice Award finalist for historical fiction.
Sadeqa's novels have received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal and have been featured in top reads lists by NBC News.com, Good Housekeeping, Christian Science Monitor, Reader's Digest, Off The Shelf, W Magazine, Country Living, Hollywood Life, Parade, She Reads, and many others. She is a passionate public speaker, writing coach and Kimbilo Fellow. She teaches for the MFA program at Drexel University and is a small group writing mentor for Story Summit.
Originally from Philadelphia, Sadeqa currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, their three children and dog, Penny. WEBSITE