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The Family Orchard: A Novel

3.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  447 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
In the bestselling tradition of The Red Tent, The Family Orchard is a spellbinding novel of one unforgettable family, the orchard they've tended for generations, and a love story that transcends the ages.

Nomi Eve's lavishly imagined account begins in Palestine in 1837, with the tale of the irrepressible family matriach, Esther, who was lured by the smell of baking bread in
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Vintage (first published 2000)
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Ayelet Waldman
I'm just going to refer you to the brilliant Daniel Mendelsohn's review of this novel:
Jul 19, 2013 Shelley rated it it was ok
Made it to page 102. I couldn't take it. I don't like to force myself to read a book. It has to make you want to read it.
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"A magical, multigenerational saga encompassing two hundred years in the life of an unforgettable family--a book of love stories, ill-fated and blessed, sensuous as a dream, unfolding in a time and a place where fable is more potent than fact, where the imagination is more powerful than any truth, where the line between myth and history has all but dissolved: Jerusalem, from the early years of the nineteenth century to the present.

They left Eastern Europe for Israel and emerged, six gen
Jul 18, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok
I really liked the concept of this book: It started with the author's family tree. Just two people, and told their story. From their, the family tree started to grow roots and branches as stories from other family members were added and told until we get to present day.

The Family Orchard followed Jewish families from Palestine and Jerusalem to Poland and America and beyond. Everyone is connected and everyone has a story to share. But, what makes our real stories? The ones we share with others,
Mar 04, 2015 Jaindoh rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was in my teens and knew very little about the conflict in Palestine. I loved it back then, for its language and its quirkiness.
So I thought I d read it again, to see what I had overlooked, now that I know more about what is happening there...
The Family Orchard tells the story of the many branches of a Jewish family tree, from the 1850s to the present day. It is mostly based around Jerusalem and Palestine.
The book is full of anecdotal and domestic detail, it is romantic
Feb 25, 2016 Debby rated it really liked it
Recommended to Debby by: Ali loaned me the book
First of all, I object to the Goodreads description comparing this book to the Red Tent. It is based on her family history from the 1800's to the present; from Europe to Palestine, now Israel, rather than based on Biblical stories, and this book is much better written.
Nomi Eve juxtaposes her dad's factual history of their family with her imaginings of the details of their lives.
Aug 17, 2009 Shari rated it it was ok
The book follows a family’s 200 year history as they travelled from eastern Europe to Israel and put down their toots there. The characters are interesting and well–drawn but at times the book goes off on spiritual and artistic tangents that are difficult to follow. I also found that it kind of dwindled off at the end.

Sara Steger
Nov 14, 2015 Sara Steger rated it liked it
Eve's family history in fiction. Very nicely done. She draws her charactes well. The problem for me is that just when you become invested, she moves on to the next generation.
Anne Marie
Jun 29, 2014 Anne Marie rated it it was ok
This book wasn't as bad as I thought it would be after reading a couple of the not-so-great reviews. I was at least able to finish the book, unlike one of the reviewers, who had to stop at page 100. I thought the author had really great subject matter even though it was fiction, but realistic fiction, about her Jewish ancestors. Some of the stories were interesting; I liked how grandparents and great great grandparents came to life in their time period. But other times, it was difficult and rath ...more
Lara Maynard

Stars for the overall concept, for being creative with the structure of narratives, plus illustrations, for trying to go for gusto with language, and for some stellar sentences and stories within this family-tree-comes-alive-in-novel form. Here's an example of those fine sentences:


I get what Eve was going for in the writing style, but the metaphors are sometimes stretched too long and there is a fair bit of overwriting in general.

Because the bo
Jul 08, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where to begin? I had this book on my shelf for ages - years in fact. Something led me to take it off the shelf and start it a few weeks back... Maybe because I have been reading other books at the same time, I found the opening chapters took a while to get into. I soon got into my stride though, and found myself really enjoying Nomi Eve's writing.

Her characters were so real and interesting. Their flaws and foibles making them very intriguing personalities. This is a book about family and place
This novel is an interesting exercise in weaving history, legend, fact and memory as Nomi Eve composes her own midrash from her father's family history research. He records births, marriages, and migrations; she constructs secret desires and personality quirks. Each chapter gives a fleeting glimpse of a couple or an individual in the family from 1837 to the author herself.

I'm afraid the premise is at times more interesting than the execution. Sometimes Eve's flourishes and embroideries are a bi
Jun 06, 2013 Patrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: near-east
An unsatisfying read. I enjoyed the first 100 pages or so, in which the characters from history were presented. As she got closer to the modern characters, they got less and less interesting, and more unappealing. In general, it is not a flattering picture of a family. As others have noted, the depiction of this family in isolation from much of the world around them (Palestinians, in particular) was odd.

The idea of the orchard as a theme did not really work. It seemed more like a lot of research
May 25, 2015 Linda rated it it was ok
This was like reading short stories, and I was looking for a different kind of family saga, the kind where one generation slowly slips into the next. This book makes one abrupt jump after another. The redeeming feature is that Nomi Eve is quite a good writer, but she needs to get the movement in the narration better. This is a debut novel so perhaps she will.
Eve's bits with the supernatural do not resonate well with me, and if I know that sort of thing is in a book, it probably would have been
Megan Lillian
Dec 31, 2010 Megan Lillian rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
An interesting style of narrative, the history of a family from Jerusalem is unraveled through both the narrator's father's factual historical lens and her own fantastical, imaginary version of each generation's lives, loves, and losses. Several of the details were beautiful, or clever, or both. I liked the descriptions of each of her characters very much. The last chapter was the weakest and I felt the author fell into trite love-isms as she tried to find some way to wrap up... Overall, the boo ...more
Jun 01, 2009 Kim rated it it was ok
This is the story of a family that spans generations and is in many ways a fictionalized history of immigration to Palestine. Um, Palestinians dont really play a role in this one. We are really talking about a history of European immigration to Palestine. A Palestine sin Palestinians. So a lot of interesting and important history goes unfictionalized and thus silenced in this book. That said, there are some passably hot sex scenes, but dont get too excited because somehow throughout the generati ...more
I enjoyed this book but found myself not wanting to move so quickly from one generation to the next. I would have liked spending more time getting to know the characters better, once they became interesting we moved on.........
May 24, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I'm not sure if it was just because this was the first book I read after my 2nd baby was born or what, but I didn't really like it. For one thing, it took me over a month to read, and if you know me, you know that I generally read books in days, not weeks. Partly that could be attributed to that "new mommy haze", but part of it was the book. It was a family history, but there wasn't enough plot to keep my interest. It kind of dragged along. The first two chapters were almost soft porn, but the r ...more
Mar 12, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
A multigenerational saga told as a family history. It starts with the great-great grandparents of the author. Each story is so intimate and sensual. Woven throughout are women with special talents - embroidery, baking, stealing even. It tells some deep dark secrets/family secrets and how it alters their life/lives and their histories. Beautifully written She is fine story teller. The family mostly lives and grows up on a citrus orchard. The descriptions you can almost taste. The orchard is in Is ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Anna rated it liked it
This was an interesting read. It was a good lazy winter read and kept my attention. It was written in a unique way, with the authors grandfather and father narrating the book.
Gill Schell
Feb 06, 2016 Gill Schell rated it liked it
The history of a Jewish family. Disappointing, felt it had potential and enjoyed the first half; then got very bored and couldn't wait for it to finish.
Jun 25, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
Definitely interesting in some parts, but seems muddled in others. Overall I found it enjoyable but I wouldn't rush to read other books by the author.
Deborah Drezon
Mar 14, 2013 Deborah Drezon rated it liked it
I liked the book, particularly the premise of the daughter's words and the father's words telling the same stories. I think the writer has some very strong moments and some weaker ones, leaving me feeling like this could have been a great book but stopped at good. I know the writer was young and she may grow into her craft over time. This is a wonderful first effort and I believe it could be re-written stronger. The transitions were weak from story to story but I think that careful editing and c ...more
Carly Crosby
Dec 20, 2015 Carly Crosby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books, fiction
Absolutely fantastic.
I loved this novel from the first through the last page. The writing is so phenomenal I cannot do it justice. Poetry takes to novel, as we follow this family through the ages. We see their humanity in small scenes from their lives. Every inch of this book is well executed. There are passages that you have to read over and over, testing how they feel on your tongue and in your ear. I know already that my copy will eventually be well battered with many rereadings, various high
Patti Williams
May 04, 2016 Patti Williams rated it it was ok
Beautiful in parts, but something was missing or perhaps it was the opposite. Too much of the author's presence.
Mooi boek voor iedereen die geïnteresseerd is in familiegeschiedenis. Het boek begint met Esther en Yochanan en van daaruit volgt een verhaal over de vele generaties die vanuit hun huis in Jeruzalem worden geboren en opgroeien. Het leest een beetje vreemd (vandaar 3 sterren) want het is een soort stamboom dat uit verhalen bestaat, waarbij een 'vader' de feiten vertelt en een 'ik'persoon deze aanvult met verhalen. Door de feiten wordt het verhaal steeds onderbroken en leest het niet echt als een ...more
Jun 21, 2012 John rated it really liked it
This is her one book. It reminds me of the Latin American surrealists but based in Israel over generations. So far she has a nice touch. You feel like she was enjoying this while she was writing it.

And in the end, not a great book, but a good book. There was much love in writing this. She took her family history and made a real life fairy tale out of it.

I'm fascinated by the fact that she disappears after. As Ken Kesey said, isn't writing just one good book enough? Probably. She just put some mu
May 19, 2016 Ila rated it it was ok
Had a hard time finishing this one. A bit slow for me.
Aug 10, 2009 Marvin rated it it was ok
A promising premise: it's written in conversation with, and as fictional elaboration on, the author's father's history of their family, whose ancestors emigrated to Palestine in the 1830s. Unfortunately, the execution doesn't live up to the promise; we don't spend enough time with any of the characters to get intimately familiar with, or care about, them, and there's not enough treatment of changing historical contexts to take advantage of the story's broad historical sweep through a most intere ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Pamela rated it it was ok
Book was boring
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“The word legend comes from the Latin “legere,” which means “to read.” The word fiction comes from the Latin “fingere,” which means “to form.” From fingere we also get the word fingers. We form things with our fingers. The word history comes from the Greek “istor,” which means “to learn” or “to know.” I believe in original etymology. I believe that fiction is formed truth. I believe that history is a way of knowing all of this. I believe that legend is how we read between the lines.” 5 likes
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