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The Book of Eve

(The Voices of Eve #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  46 reviews
First published in 1973, The Book of Eve has become a classic. When Eva Carroll walks out on her husband of 40 years, it is an unplanned, completely spontaneous gesture. Yet Eva feels neither guilt nor remorse. Instead, she feels rejuvenated and blissfully free. As she builds a new life for herself in a boarding house on the "wrong" side of Montreal, she finds happiness an ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 191 pages
Published January 1st 1984 by McClelland & Stewart (first published January 1st 1974)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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I enjoyed this previously unknown-to-me Canadian classic from 1973 about a 65 year old Montreal woman who sets down her husband's tray of cocoa one day, packs a suitcase, and walks out the door to a new life in a basement suite on the other side of town. It's a good story, and you root for her to make it through and thrive.

What was especially interesting was seeing what's changed and what's still the same. Eve is a woman of her generation, coming of age in her 40s, giving birth to her son as th
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is an amazing little book with a very large story about a woman, Eve, who walks out on her husband after 40 years of marriage. She has not had a quarrel, nor an upset, she simply sets down is breakfast tray (he is somewhat of an invalid) and walks out the front door with one suitcase and very little money. She finds a room on the wrong side of Montreal in a boarding house and begins a new life journey without an ounce of regret or the least want to return to her old life.
I especially loved
Hilary G
Ex-Bookworm group review.

The most interesting thing about this book was that Ray chose it. It seems at first glance to be such a "woman's book", though I ended up thinking it was a "human book". All credit to Ray for having the guts to recommend a book many men might not admit to having read (even if they had). The Book of Eve reminded me quite a lot of "The L-Shaped Room" . I saw similarities between the two stories of women who had done something to make themselves social outcasts and found fu
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Loved this book. Perhaps one needs to be of "a certain age" to appreciate the courage it took for Eva to leave her comfortable, secure but emotionally abusive situation.
Linda Irvine
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In many ways shaped a picture of who I wanted to become.
❀ Susan G
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads

In a time of #metoo, as the media highlights far too many stories of abuse, misogyny and inappropriate behaviour, it is interesting to read a book first published in 1973 and reflect that, in many ways, not much has changed. The Book of Eve is the story of Eva, a girl, a woman, a wife, a mother and a grandmother who struggles through relationships, an unhappy marriage, motherhood and then suddenly picks up and leaves it all behind.

Eva suddenly grabbed a fe
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
Another little gem of a book about a woman who after a 40 some odd year marriage just leaves. Imagine, without more than a few dollars and a few things. She leaves her husband- a nasty man- and ends up in a boarding house with a few misfits (because of course) and families and we get to see how she gets on. I liked her enough but her ideology was repetitive but I guess that's how thoughts work when you're reading a first person story. We learn about her past in flashbacks and see how sweet freed ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it was first published, 1973 I think and I liked it then. I liked it just as much this time. The theme is how we trap ourselves trying to impress the neighbours. That old saying, 'what will the neighbours say', still seems carry a lot of weight. At the end of the book Eva was just starting to think for herself or please herself. She still had a way to go but I believe would get there.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Libertarians, lovers, everyone
(French below)

How annoying for God (not to mention Adam) after all, if Eve had just walked out of Eden without waiting to be evicted, and left behind her pangs of guilt, as it were, with her leaf apron?

The Book of Eve is another little treasure found in a garage sale around 2002. The illustration dragged me: an obviously happy and carefree older woman with a cat.

A 65 year Westmount old woman decide to walk out on a sick husband, with she had been taking care of for 40 years, feeling invisible.
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it
The beginning of this book intrigued me. An older woman just decides to walk away from her life, including ailing husband, & does it---that very day! Set in Montreal, she has no plans, no suitcase, very little money, etc. Sometime during a city bus ride, she decides Montreal's a big enough city for her to relocate by merely living across town. She's close to being homeless, but manages to find a shoddy basement apartment to rent. From there, we're in her thoughts of idleness, no demands (the hub ...more
Eva's just turned 65 in the late 1960s, has received her first old-age pension cheque, and decides one frosty October morning to leave her husband, Burt, to whom she's been miserably married for over 40 years. They've lived a materially comfortable, spiritually stifling suburban life in Montreal. She's had enough.

She leaves after setting out Burt's usual paltry breakfast: an apple and a cup of cocoa. She leaves with one small valise that contains "Wuthering Heights and a poetry anthology from my
Tom Gray
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Eva Carroll found herself trapped in a marriage that she had entered more of of adherence to convention than love or passion. There is a metaphor in teh novel that equates her marriage with the home that she and her husband had bought together. She contributed teh equity in her teacher's pension to the down payment. But the house became an expression of her husband's life in which she took only secondary importance. He made all the plans and did and the repairs and renovation himself. She was es ...more
Meh. I did not particularly enjoy this book, so I gave it two stars.

Note: I used togive full reviews for all of the books that I rated on GR. However, GR's new giveaway policies (Good Reads 2017 November Giveaways Policies Changes) have caused me to change my reviewing decisions. These new GR policies seem to harm smaller publishing efforts in favour of providing advantage to the larger companies (GR Authors' Feedback), the big five publishers (Big Five Publishers). So, because of these policie
I came across this book when I was getting ready to travel to Montreal in 2019. I think this story was a generation or two ahead of its time. It was delightful and real and affirming. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but the rest of the writing and story were so good and approachable, that I’m giving it 5 stars.

This was favorite quote—it’s a conversation between Eva and her lover:

“‘Trouble is, you [are] much too intelligent. You don’t trust the rest of yourself enough. [You] Try to be reas
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
The Book of Eve is an enjoyable Canadian novel telling a feminist story of an old woman who leaves her husband in order to find a sense of happiness and independence in her life. It makes bold statements about the traditional nature of western marriage, when a woman was more subservient, dependent, and lacking choice. This novel is about Eva's quest, irrational as it often is, for autonomy. She gives up stable living and forever alters her familial relationships in order to find herself at age 6 ...more
Eleanor Cowan
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Much courage is required to end an unhappy marriage and to pay the cost independence exacts.
At first, Eve leaves a servile situation - but later learns that compromise can be made to welcome new happiness in her life. Eve softens into an admirable wisdom. Engaging read!
Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
"It's not every day you offer to sacrifice your life, after all, only to find that nobody's interested. Embarrassment like that can be quite traumatic."
Set in Montreal in the 60's this Canadian classic was completely a new title to me when chosen as a pick for a Good Reads monthly read. Funny with ironic sarcasm, old lady Anglo humour and quips. The best (most ironic) part is Eve is a well educated feminist, yet true to her generation, she would never define herself, her actions or thoughts as s
J.H.  Gordon
Oct 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: canlit
I didn't love this nearly as much as A Population of One but it is a surprising little novel. Part comedy, part tragedy, the story follows Eva, who abruptly leaves her husband of 40 years and her comfortable middle-class life to pursue independence in a low income neighbourhood of Montreal. Beresford-Howe doesn't sugar coat Eva's new life - she suffers illness, both mental and physical, struggles to meet her most basic needs, and encounters a cast of colourful characters. While she employs quite ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this -but ultimately found it did not go far enough with it's theme of independence from expected female conformity and social acceptance. At times it stretched belief and I found myself frustrated with the main character whose choices and lack of self worth were annoying- but also I'm sure in line with the mores of the time as it was written in the 70"s.
The writing was very good- will read more from this author.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book . I have a friend , who could do , what Eve did. Not l. I found Eve to be very brave. A bit naive . I would have fought for more things from my past life. I need a few niceties. I found the ending a bit abrupt. I was not sure it was over or if my reader was malfunctioning
Mary Anne
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly lovely little novel that may seem dated but it still can speak to women today, as it voices voicing the continuing ways women are controlled and held back from true equality in being human.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very moving story about a woman trying to overcome a suffocating relationship and find herself. However, I couldn't help but feel Eve was a bit selfish, especially in her relationship with her son.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book back in the 90's. So I was pretty young at the time. At 50 it's even more relevant and has been on my bookshelves for about 30 years.
I love HR vision of how cunning and resourceful Eve becomes. I could only dream of being that person if I needed to be.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
short, brisk, pragmatic story of one woman's liberation from convention, her suburb, and her husband.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
What a pleasant surprise reading this wonderful book.
I am surprised to find out the book was written in the 70's. Overall I enjoyed it.
Reviews May Vary
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Lesson: Even fictional men are trash. I’m giving this 3 stars but it’ll be down to 1 by tomorrow.
Joan Barton
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: long married ladies
My third time reading this book. I love it ! I think any woman who has been married a long time would really enjoy this little novel! I will read it again.
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I found this book really hard to get into. I didn't have a real connection to the main character and for the most part found that she just annoyed me while reading this. I felt like this book started to get going but really went nowhere. The only parts that I can say "saved" this book where the flashback parts which had some interesting parts. I wouldn't read this unless you have to.
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Constance Beresford-Howe was born in Montreal. She received her M.A. from McGill University in 1946 and her Ph.D. from Brown University in 1950. She taught English literature and creative writing at McGill until 1969, then moved to Toronto, Ontario where she taught at Ryerson until her retirement in 1988. Her first novel, The Unreasoning Heart, was published while she was still a student.

Ms Beres

Other books in the series

The Voices of Eve (3 books)
  • A Population Of One
  • The Marriage Bed

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