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Henna House

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,571 ratings  ·  482 reviews
An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, from the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard.

In the tradition of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, Henna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them.

Nomi Eve’s v
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Scribner
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  3,571 ratings  ·  482 reviews

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Maggie Anton
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You can read the synopsis on another page. For me this was a book to read twice: the first time to rush through the pages to quickly find out what will happen to the characters next, and the second time to slowly savor the descriptions of these marvelous and exotic people and locales. Nomi Eve captivated me to keep reading, promising the possibility of one more great scene on the next page ... in the next chapter ... until abruptly the story ends and I'm left hungry for more.
Laurie Anderson
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and deeply researched novel set in a Jewish community in Yemen from the early 1900s and to nearly the present-day. I was captivated by the details of a time and place that I knew nothing about. The pace was a bit slower than most books I read, but that worked for this tale. Really glad that I read it.
Henna House by Nomi Eve is a beautifully written story of a young woman growing up in Yemen during the 1920′s and 1930′s. Right away, I was transported back in time to a very primitive world, a world without any kind of modern day conveniences, a world where religion and superstitions played a central role in the lives of the people. The world is brought to life by the voice of the narrator. When we first meet Adela, she is a bright, young, precocious little girl, the youngest child in a very la ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was a disappointing miss for me. Went in expecting a dramatic story of a Yemenite Jewish girl learning Henna in order to set her free. What I got was a story with characters doing things that made me feel.... nothing.

Adela Damari has all the makings to be a powerful antagonist. She made a valiant effort, but ultimately didn't come off the page for me. This book starts out with her fearful of the Confiscator- a man who threatened to take Adela if her father died before she was married to ano
Nomi Eve isn't playing when she composes fiction. Henna House is not a tale delivered by the author with a light hand to her readers. In another sense, this decidedly isn't literary play; I would not describe the form as experimental, exploratory, or organically tailored to the content in a responsive or flexible way.

Instead, the narrative here is as purposeful in tone and effect as any I can presently recall. Eve's narrator's voice has been well-honed, and more strikingly, the discourse in thi
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Before talking about what I didn’t like about the book I’d like to talk about its importance and encourage people to read it. With Yemen currently in extreme crisis (2015) I encourage readers to pick up this book. There is a lot of information, clearly told, about Yemen from 1930s to post-WWII. All political and cultural upheaval is confusing to outsiders and without some background knowledge, it is even more difficult.

In the 1930s Yemen was divided between a Britain protectorate containing Ade
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched book. At first I thought I was reading about a young girl in Biblical times Yemen. The Jews and the Muslims are living side by side with the Muslims ruling and controlling every minute detail of the lives of the Jews. The homes, clothing, living conditions, and cultural mores are biblical. It was quite shocking to realize that the story starts around the 1920's! Then I thought about how many people, especially girls and women are still livin ...more
What a beautifully written story. This was a group of people I really knew nothing about and I've always been interested in henna. This is about Adela Damari starting in the 1920s in Yemen. It follows her life as she tries to avoid the Confiscator who takes Jewish children as part of the Orphan's Decree and they are instantly adopted by the local Muslim community. I enjoyed the relationship between Adela and her cousin Hani who introduces her to henna application and meanings. I enjoyed the hars ...more
This book surprised me and ended up moving me more than I expected. I loved all the culture, dreams and tradition in it. And once I stopped expecting a fast action story and realized I was simply living the life of Adela along side her, I was able to relax and embrace her day to day living and all the pain, betrayal and joy that was found in it. The writing was absolutely beautiful and a wonderful vehicle to learn about the trials of these determined people. And I learned SO MUCH and really felt ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is in the running to be my favorite historical fiction read of 2014 and will definitely be on my favorite historical fiction reads of all time list. Described as similar to Diamante's The Red Tent, I found it to remind me much more of Hoffman's The Dovekeepers. Desert villages, a little girl who wants to read and not be married off to an old man, the microcosm of families, and Adela's knowledge of her expanding world were all a rich story unto themselves, but the final third of the book is ...more
Kate Moretti
Every once in a while, I read a book and think, I should just give up. I can't do this. I can't write LIKE THIS. Gorgeous, descriptive, lush prose. The kind that makes you want to crawl into the book and stay there. Gripping characters and plot. I loved everything about this novel and I learned a ton, considering what I knew about Jewish Yemenites was nil. Nomi Eve is a force. This book is an absolute gem.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

In Yemen, Jews and Muslims live aide by side- but not always peacefully. The Muslims have decreed that any orphaned Jewish child must be adopted by a Muslim family. Adela, the only child of a sickly cobbler and a mercurial mother, lives in fear of the Confiscator taking her. In hopes of preventing forced adoption, she is engaged to her cousin Asaf when she is just a child. While she plays at being married with Asaf, she also enjoys the companionship of her child
Paul Pessolano
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Henna House” by Nomi Eve, published by Scribner.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – August 12, 2014

This is a woman’s book but I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

The story takes place in Yemen in the 1920’s and tells the story of the Yemenite Jewish community living amongst Muslims. Adela Damari, a young Jewish girl, is getting close to womanhood, (determined by her getting her period), but has no prospects of a husband. At this early age if she has no
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and mesmerizing, Henna House is an absorbing story that spans the years from the 1920s to the 1970s in Qaraah and Aden in Yemen, to Hadera and Tel Aviv in Israel. Narrated by Adela Damari, a Yemeni Jew, it's a sweeping family saga that captivates and beguiles, beckons and betrays. It is laden with culture and dreams of a people and the interpretation of traditional superstition of signs and omens. Even as a young girl, Adela dreams, defies, and loves; she's stubborn and she's loyal. And ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-fiction
First of all, I would recommend that anyone reading this book should go for the hard copy version (not on a reader). The cover is the most beautiful book cover I have ever seen. As I was reading this book, and reading descriptions of the henna, I would keep going back to the book cover and looking at it. And the book itself was exquisite like the jacket - like slowly unwrapping a gift. The book was sometimes a little slow - but could be forgiven because the story was so interesting and informati ...more
Lorie Slass
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautifully crafted story, with vivid characters. The author clearly did her homework in this wonderful piece of historical fiction. The women in this novel were amazingly resilient given what they had to go through. I so enjoyed the story but I also learned a lot about Yemenite Jews and their struggles.
Will White
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful story that my words could never give it justice. It follows the life of a little girl growing up in Yemen as a Jew from the 1920's to 1980's. Her story of her enduring journey through the era and landscape is an eye opening experience that was educational and enlightening. It starts off a little slow but stay with it because it will be well worth it.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a good story and about a history that I am mainly unfamiliar with. Great writing and characters that you care about.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometime in the middle years of my twenties, my sister and my cousin hennaed my breasts on a lark, using a dime-store-quality kit we bought off a mysterious woman at a street fair. It was summer. The air was heavy. The moon was full. It all made sense at the time.

I had no idea how very close we came to correctly approximating the ritual of henna, which I did not understand to be such a robust and ritualized art form until I read Nomi Eve’s Henna House.

Historical fiction thrills me in concept a
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nomi Eve’s HENNA HOUSE an expansive historical novel that vividly depicts the exotic world of Yemeni Jews in the first decades of the 20th century. It is a riveting portrait rooted in real life. It tells not only of a lost culture but deals with the domestic lives of Jewish families (particularly the women) in that particular time and place as it addressed the Jewish tradition of tattooing with henna, family relationships, marriage, betrayal, karma, love, forgiveness as well as an arbitrary stat ...more
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Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: period-pieces
Definitely a slow burner, but such a rich and luscious story of childhood, love, fate, and redemption. Henna House was a book I kept putting down and walking away from in the beginning because it was a bit slow, but once I neared the end, I realized that these slow bits were necessary. The main character Adela is so perceptive of all things going on in her village in Yemen, and so brave it’s hard to believe she’s not real. The author really gave us readers a second sight into this world of fear ...more
Tricia Douglas
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my book club reads. We all liked this story very much. Adela is a young Jewish girl living in Yemen. Her parents need to find her a husband as they are getting old and are afraid that if she is orphaned she will be adopted by the strong Muslim community. This story shows the strong family ties of the Yemenite Jews and the hardships living alongside the Muslims. We learn about the tradition of the making of henna and how brides are prepared with henna before their ceremony. Well-w ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've just written a review about The Golem and the Jinni, in which I said that this book had earned my patience despite the slow pace of its plot. For an example of a book that has not earned my patience, I give you Henna House.

The book starts when the main character is five years old and takes two hundred of its three hundred pages to get her to sixteen years old (and married). There will be plenty of readers
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm really torn about this one. On the one hand, I loved reading about a culture--the Yemeni Jews--about which I knew precisely nothing. I think it is too easy for non-Jewish readers to think that there is only one or two types of Judaism, so I really enjoyed learning about this particular culture. And I think this is the first book I'd ever read that was set in Yemen, so there is that.

I also really loved Eve's writing voice. She's lyrical without getting too wrapped up in her own language. She
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow. Reading this book reminded me again of why I like to read historical fiction. I knew that there were Jewish people who lived side by side in the Middle East right after WWI and that many of the Jewish people came to live in Israel when the country was established. However, I never really thought about how different and almost primitive the lives of these people seem today. The main character, a young girl, has never seen a car and her people travel by donkey.
She is constantly threatened by
Lauren Stoolfire
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read an ARC of Henna House that I picked up at my local thrift store.

Henna House by Nomi Eve tells the story of Adela Damari, her family and community, as well as the rituals that bind them together. It all begins in Yemen in 1920 when she's a small girl and her parents want to find her a future husband, but with her parents in poor health she becomes adopted by her uncle from a far off city. Alongside her cousin, she learns about the rituals of henna tattooing which open Adela's eyes to a wid
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous novel - I will skip the plot synopsis since others have done that - but I want to say that each chapter in this book is like a multi-faceted jewel and could be read as a beautiful story on its own; at the same time the chapters build and grow an engrossing novel that follows a girl as she grows from a child to a woman in a Yemenite Jewish community in the mid 20th century.

Meticulously researched, this book expertly weaves intimate and personal details with sweeping historical
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book told from the eyes of Adela Damari, a Jewish girl growing up in Yemen in the 1920's/1930's. A story full of love, loss, tragedy and the enduring and relentless human spirit that never gives up.
"Toward the end of the night, I looked up at my aunt and was startled. She looked different. She was radiant. She was a queen riding on an elephant in a distant jungle. Hani was her princess. I looked around. The tapestries on the walls began to shift forms, and the animals peeke
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I selected this book because a (Jewish) friend of mine had henna applied to her feet and I always thought of it as an Indian custom so I became curious. In my research, I discovered this book. In it, I certainly learned a good deal about the tradition of Henna amongst Yemenite Jews.

But this book goes way beyond a story of Henna or even of Yemenite Jews to become a family saga with love and deceit as key elements. The writing is wonderfully descriptive and the story is many-faceted with much dept
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the World ...: Discussion for Henna House 9 77 Apr 11, 2016 05:09AM  
Casual Readers: * Author Q & A: HENNA HOUSE 23 85 May 04, 2015 02:39PM  
Nomi Eve on Henna House 5 29 Oct 22, 2014 05:00PM  
Casual Readers: HENNA HOUSE: Official Discussion 5 33 Oct 08, 2014 05:12PM  
Around the World: Yemen - Lilisa recommends: Henna House by Nomi Eve 1 9 Aug 30, 2014 10:24PM  
Casual Readers: {NO SPOILERS} HENNA HOUSE 3 14 Aug 28, 2014 03:57AM  

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