The House of Eve

S. & S. Audio. Feb. 2023. 10:37 hrs. ISBN 9781797153353. $23.99. F
Johnson’s (Yellow Wife) latest explores the ramifications of unplanned pregnancy as experienced by two young Black women in the 1950s. Eleanor Quarles, a student at Howard University, must work two jobs to make ends meet. She meets and falls in love with graduate student William, but fitting in with his wealthy family proves challenging, especially when Eleanor becomes pregnant. In Philadelphia, brilliant student Ruby Pearsall, the daughter of an unwed mother, has set herself on a path to becoming a doctor when she falls for Shimmy, the son of her Jewish landlord. Eleanor’s and Ruby’s lives collide in stunning ways, highlighting tensions of race, class, colorism, and reproductive rights. Narrators Ariel Blake and Nicole Lewis provide masterly performances with full-bodied characterizations of Ruby, Eleanor, and their respective family members. The novel is somewhat predictable, but Blake’s and Lewis’s performances will keep listeners invested until the end.
VERDICT Johnson’s depiction of the triumphs and challenges encountered by both women should be a hit with book groups and listeners interested in timely historical fiction. Suggest to fans of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Take My Hand.
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