September 1, 2019

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.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Nes­sa Rapoport

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. What do you think of Nana and Eve’s rela­tion­ship? How does Nana’s rela­tion­ship with Nell affect the way Nana relates to Eve?

  9. 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?

  10. 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.