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Evening
Cover of Evening
Evening
A Novel
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Two sisters, lost youth, and youthful obsessions; organized by day as the family sits shiva, Evening unfolds the paradoxes of love, ambition, siblings, and the way the past continues to inflect the present, sometimes against our will.

In her thirties, Eve is summoned home by her distraught family to mourn the premature death of her sister, Tam, a return that becomes an unexpected encounter with the past. Eve bears the burden of a secret: Two weeks before Tam died, Eve and Tam argued so vehemently that they did not speak again. Her sister was famous, acclaimed for her career as a TV journalist and her devoted marriage. But Tam, too, had a secret, revealed the day after the funeral, one that inverts the story Eve has told herself since their childhood. In the aftermath, Eve is forced to revise her version of her fractured family, her sister's accomplishments and vaunted marriage, and her own impeded ambition in work and love.

Day by day as the family sits shiva, the stories unfold, illuminating the past​ to shape the present. Evening explores the dissonant love between sisters, the body in longing, the pride we take in sustaining our illusions, and the redemption that is possible only when they are dispelled.

Two sisters, lost youth, and youthful obsessions; organized by day as the family sits shiva, Evening unfolds the paradoxes of love, ambition, siblings, and the way the past continues to inflect the present, sometimes against our will.

In her thirties, Eve is summoned home by her distraught family to mourn the premature death of her sister, Tam, a return that becomes an unexpected encounter with the past. Eve bears the burden of a secret: Two weeks before Tam died, Eve and Tam argued so vehemently that they did not speak again. Her sister was famous, acclaimed for her career as a TV journalist and her devoted marriage. But Tam, too, had a secret, revealed the day after the funeral, one that inverts the story Eve has told herself since their childhood. In the aftermath, Eve is forced to revise her version of her fractured family, her sister's accomplishments and vaunted marriage, and her own impeded ambition in work and love.

Day by day as the family sits shiva, the stories unfold, illuminating the past​ to shape the present. Evening explores the dissonant love between sisters, the body in longing, the pride we take in sustaining our illusions, and the redemption that is possible only when they are dispelled.

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About the Author-
  • Nessa Rapoport was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a novel, Preparing for Sabbath, and a collection of prose poems, A Woman’s Book of Grieving. Her memoir, House on the River, was awarded a grant by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others. She lives in New York with her husband, artist Tobi Kahn.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2020
    Returning to Toronto to sit shiva for her sister, Eve finds herself entering a seven-day hiatus from life, a time in which to not only mourn, but rethink the past, ponder the future, and reevaluate the sibling lost forever. Methodical, conscientious Tam had achieved it all. Canada's premier anchorwoman, she also possessed "a great marriage, a wonderful daughter and a new baby, fame and fortune." Her sister, Eve, however, chose a different, messier life plan. Fleeing Canada to travel, then settling in New York, Eve, now 35, has a semiavailable boyfriend, an incomplete dissertation about unmarried British women writers in the interwar years, and a job teaching continuing education courses. Eve's return to the family home to grieve her sister's untimely death comes with the added discomfort that at their final meeting, two week earlier, the sisters argued so vehemently that they never spoke again. Being back also revives Eve's feelings for Laurence, her childhood love, who is newly single and just as desirable. Could a cozy future in Toronto be hers? Rapoport's tightly structured novel uses the seven-day Jewish mourning ritual to delve claustrophobically into Eve's psychology and the family history that shaped it. Parents, grandparents, the sisters' seesaw relationship, and Eve's childhood memories are repeatedly scrutinized, interrupted by occasional plot nodes like a date with Laurence and a video from Tam, prepared before her death. Was Tam as perfect as she seemed? Who envied whom? Can Eve make better choices? These questions, both familiar and overworked, will all resolve themselves neatly as suggestions of moral lapses are excused by extenuating circumstances, and a couple of surprises help other issues melt away. The scenario is sympathetic but the conceptual bones poke too visibly through this novel's narrative skin.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2020

    Spanning the seven days of shiva (the Jewish mourning ritual), this new work from Rapoport (Preparing for Sabbath) opens in 1990 in Toronto before the funeral of Eve's older sister Tam, a mother of two young children, an admired TV journalist, and a pillar of the community. Eve, 35, irritated by Canada's tameness, has long ago fled to New York City, escaping familial pressures and what she sees as a stultifying, overly conventional existence. Always close to her sister despite their differences, Eve recalls a lifetime of trying to truly understand Tam, who seemed always to have known exactly what she wanted out of life. Eve, in contrast, has never settled down, endlessly researching a PhD dissertation about women explorers between the two world wars who were striving to escape their Victorian upbringings. As Eve withdraws from the family tragedy into a liaison with her first love, she is confronted with stark evidence that there was more to her "perfect" sister than was evident on the surface. VERDICT Somber but hopeful, this work reveals truths about family dynamics, which are always messier and more complicated than unquestioned family lore.--Lauren Gilbert, Ctr. for Jewish History, New York

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 17, 2020
    Rapoport’s smart, darkly funny novel (after the memoir House on the River) considers the travails of a Jewish family in contemporary Canada. Eve, 35, returns from New York City to her native Toronto for the funeral of her older sister, Tam, and to sit shiva. Hardworking, straight-arrow Tam was a famous TV news anchor, married with children; unmarried Eve, the rebellious bohemian, teaches adult education classes. Tam sneered at Eve’s lack of accomplishment, particularly in domestic life, and Eve remains tortured by guilt and rage over their final, unresolved fight in the hospital, which occurred shortly before Tam’s death from breast cancer. When Eve receives a card Tam had left for her that contains a cryptic note asking for Eve’s forgiveness, Eve’s attempt to decode the rest of Tam’s note (“The last time we were together, he said, ‘I want to breathe you into me’ ”) brings up memories of serene summers at the family’s house on Lake Ontario. Eve then cheats on her boyfriend with her high school boyfriend, Laurie, and as Eve learns details of her family history, she grasps the meaning of Tam’s confession. Rapoport’s prose crackles with wit (“the past is making guerrilla incursions into my life”) and erotic heat, as Eve remembers her first sexual experiences with Laurie. Suffused with deep feeling, Rapoport’s narrative boldly faces the darkness that can fuel sisterly rivalry.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2020
    Thirtysomething college professor Eve returns to Toronto following the death of her sister, Tam, to spend a week sitting shiva with her family in her childhood home. Eve, who decamped to New York City to build a life for herself outside the family circle, must now contend with the family dynamics she has long ignored and, it turns out, often wrongly interpreted. An argument with Tam two weeks prior to her death has left Eve with many fences to mend along with secrets to discover. For Eve and her family, the past and the present are not always what they seem. Rapoport (House on the River, 2004) examines the inner workings of a grieving family as Eve reexamines her past, the assumptions she has made about the people she loves, and the illusions that must be reshaped in order to make peace. Beautifully written, with expertly crafted dialogue and meaningful characters, Evening is an emotional look at one family's tragic loss and a powerful reminder that the only way to move forward is to go through.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Chloe Schama, Vogue "Unfolding over the course of a shiva, with digressions into past affairs, Evening is a mourning novel and a ghost story, the novel’s rooms crowded with opinionated family and friends and all the history and complicated relationships they carry. Each family grieves in its own way."
  • David B. Green, Haaretz "Tight, clever and poignant, with crackling dialogue that could be transposed almost directly to stage or screen."
  • Sarah Neilson, Shondaland "[A] mournful, poignant novel."
  • Kristin Iversen, Refinery29 "Tender and mournful, yet sparked with moments of joy and heat, Evening is a compassionate, lyrical portrait of grief, longing, and love."
  • Elizabeth Edelglass, Hadassah "Rapoport draws us into the pleasures of her splendid new novel, Evening, full of lush language used to describe women’s sexuality, lost loves and family secrets."
  • Irene Connelly, Forward "Like a darker, sexier Little Women, it excavates a seemingly saccharine family dynamic to reveal the tangled knot of obligations and entitlements, admirations and resentments, that underpin the closest of sibling bonds."
  • Kathryn Kemp,The Daily Californian "[A] page–turner that instills a hope amid even the most dire and final of circumstances . . . The story of a delicate, enduring sisterhood."
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A Novel
Nessa Rapoport
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