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 famously acclaimed for her career as a TV journalist and her devoted marriage. But she also 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.
Evening: A Novel
Courtesy of Nessa Rapoport
- Evening unfolds when Eve returns home to Toronto to attend the funeral of her successful older sister, Tam. How did you feel about Tam’s presence throughout the story? Despite her death, she comes alive through Eve’s perspective and recollections. Do you think the people in our lives come alive through memories? Does the image that we have of our loved ones fade in time?
- Discuss Eve’s view of Tam. Do you think she idolized her too much? How did your perspectives of both Eve and Tam change over the course of the novel?
- In Chapter 5, we see Eve trying to convince Tam to not have plastic surgery. Tam argues that she doesn’t “have a choice” as she has to maintain her ratings as a news anchor, which includes having a youthful appearance. Do you agree that Tam doesn’t have a choice? What do you think this disagreement says about the dynamics of Eve and Tam’s relationship?
- Why do you think Eve continues pursuing Laurie when they reunite during Tam’s funeral? Do you think Eve has genuine feelings for Laurie, or is it something closer to an attempt to recreate the past?
- When Eve talks with Nana in Chapter 6, she asks Nana if she got bored during her long marriage, to which Nana responds, “Bored? Eve, we had responsibilities. When we made a commitment, it was understood to be permanent.” Do you agree that marriage should be understood more as a relationship based on commitment rather than emotion and passion? Explain your answer.
- In the last conversation between the sisters, Tam argues that Eve wastes her life by not moving forward professionally or personally in her romantic relationships. Do you agree?
- There are two generations of sisters in Evening: Nana and Nell, and Tam and Eve. What do you think about the relationships between both sets of sisters?
- What do you think of Nana and Eve’s relationship? How does Nana’s relationship with Nell affect the way Nana relates to Eve?
- By the end of the book, Eve solidifies her commitment to her relationship with Simon. Do you think this came from genuine affection, or as a push from Tam from beyond the grave?
- What does Evening finally say about forgiveness and reconciliation?
The story of two sisters and their lives, ambitions, loyalties, loves, and disappointments are revealed in this lyrical novel by Nessa Rapoport. Unfolding over the seven days of the shiva of Tam — a devoted wife, mother, and successful journalist—Evening is narrated by Tam’s younger sister, Eve. Evening is a portrait of a family and of the inner lives of these two sisters. The story examines the sisters’ relationships and reveals their secrets as against the landscape of their family history. Written in poetic prose, Evening is a rich, intimate, poignant novel that probes the depths of human understanding and forgiveness. Rapoport has created a beautiful work that will stay with the reader long after they put down the book.
Help support the Jewish Book Council.