Family Orchard: A Novel

Written by Nomi Eve
Review by Jean Langlais

Nomi Eve’s first novel is a lyrical and poetic Jewish family history, from 1837 to present day. The story is told in two voices: the voice of Nomi Eve Sepher Starr and that of her father, Eliezer Sepher. While her father’s story is brief and matter of fact, Nomi’s telling is richly descriptive, full and intimate. Eve’s narrative is interspersed with many illustrations-prints, drawings and charts of Jerusalem, fruit trees, family trees and other tidbits, all relevant and interesting.

Nomi traces her family from the time her earliest ancestors, Rabbi Yochanan Shine and Esther Sophie Herschell, immigrated to Palestine from eastern Europe and married in Jerusalem in 1837. The novel for the most part is comprised of their love story and subsequent love stories in the family history, grafted to life in Palestine during those turbulent years and in particular revealed through the care and tending of the family orchard.

Like listening to beautiful music, reading The Family Orchard absorbs and lifts the reader beyond time and place. It is so unique, an experience rather than a book, involving details of Jewish life, family joy and tragedy, and the city of Jerusalem. Highly recommended.