House of Eve and an antique pound cake recipe

I had been looking forward to reading this book and was a little bummed when TLC said the publisher was delaying shipping out our books because of a big announcement.  Apparently The House of Eve was being selected for an exclusive book club.   Was it Oprah?  Was it a Jenna Bush plug on the Today Show?  Or, was Sarah Jessica Parker getting involved.  I wondered.

I finally received the book and the waiting was over.  The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is the February 2023 Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club selection.  Congratulations to Johnson!  Thanks to TLC and Simon & Schuster for a promotional copy.  All gushings and rants are my own and were not influenced by the free book I received.

About the book:


 From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring and redemptive novel set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

About the author:

Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels, including Yellow Wife. Her accolades include the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer.

Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children.

To learn more, visit


 What I thought…

As mentioned before, I was very excited to receive this book and even more so when I heard there was going to be a big announcement.    The book did not disappoint.

Ruby tells her story in first person so Ruby is the character I identified with the most.   She’s a motivated young women, trying to find a way to college.  She takes advantage of the opportunities laid before her through the We Rise program and her career goal is to become an ophthalmologist so she can help solve the eye disease that is ravaging her beloved Nene.    She’s well on her way until a kind Jewish boy crosses her path.  (His mother is not so kind.)

The trials and tribulations that Ruby endures seem insurmountable.  Her grandmother, Nene, has raised Ruby because her teenage mother was not able to care for her.  As Nene ages, Ruby must move in with her mother, Inez,  who has never learned to cope or lover her daughter.  When she’s kicked out of Inez’ house because of her mother’s creeper boyfriend, she moves in with with an aunt.   All of these households are just scraping by but at least her aunt’s home is full of love and support.  Then, of course, there’s a major roadblock to her dreams.

The structure of the book is interesting.  As Ruby tells her story in first-person, Eleanor’s tale is told in the third-person.  (Their tales are relayed in alternating chapters.)  Eleanor is from rural Ohio but has “made it” to prestigious Howard University.   She is well on her way to becoming an archivist, something she seems to have the talent and love for.  Eleanor meets her dream man, a young handsome medical student and her life seems perfect.  Then, of course, there’s a major roadblock to her happiness.

Minor spoiler alert, but I appreciated that Johnson had both women succeed in their dreams, even though there was major heartbreak and heartache along the way.    I also enjoyed the ending.  (You will have to read for yourself to appreciate that.)

The food.

For the last TLC book review (Code Name Sapphire), I just couldn’t do a food tie-in.  The story was so dark.

While the story in The House of Eve has its dark moments, it’s ultimately a tale of triumph for both Ruby and Eleanor.    This is not a food-centric novel but there was a bit of food mentioned for inspriation.

  • Scrapple, Schlitz, and toast (4)
  • Tuna salad (25)
  • Candy and ice cream from where Shimmy works (43)
  • Okra, corn and tomatoes (67)
  • Spaghetti and meatballs (214)
  • Shrimp étouffée (237)
  • Carrot cake (234)
  • Seafood salad, wilted spinach, cocktail shrimp, good-smelling cheese and Ritz crackers (245)
  • Homemade pound cake (341)

The recipe that inspired me the most was the final one on my list.  Eleanor’s mother baked cakes and pies to sell in order to help pad her meager college-fund.   When Eleanor returns home after a fight with William, the aroma of pound cake in her mother’s kitchen helps sooth her.

With a homemade chocolate raspberry sauce.

This pound cake recipe is from the late 70s.  You can read about the history of this recipe from one of my very early posts (so please don’t judge).  I have adapted the recipe a bit by using butter (and not margarine) and halving the amounts for a smaller batch.


Cake Show Pound Cake

From the old Cake and Egg Show mandated recipe.


  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 T. milk
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. almond extract
  • 2 c. flour


  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each.
  3. Combine milk with vanilla and almond extract.  Add flour alternately with milk mixture. Beat one minute at high speed.

    It’s a very thick batter.

  4. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Cool in pan.  Once cool, remove and slice.

I used unsweetened almond milk and it seemed to work well.  I think I will amp up the almond extract a bit next time, too.

Thanks to Lisa and TLC for a most excellent read.  This may be one of the best books I’ve read this year.  Please check out what others thought.

TLC tour schedule:

Saturday, February 11th: IG: @never_withouta_book and TikTok: @never_withouta_book

Sunday, February 12th: @shereadytoread on TikTok

Monday, February 13th:  @nurse_bookie

Monday, February 13th: @karendeeandabc

Monday, February 13th: @mary.mary_library

Tuesday, February 14th: @bookin.good

Wednesday, February 15th: @booksnbikram – REVIEW

Wednesday, February 15th: @inspired.j.reads

Wednesday, February 15th: @bookishgirlmagic

Thursday, February 16th: @mommaleighellensbooknook

Thursday, February 16th: @lovemybooks2020

Friday, February 17th: @bookstasamm

Friday, February 17th: @pastbookish

Friday, February 17th: @sipandflipbookclub on TikTok

Saturday, February 18th: @aneedleinmybookstack

Saturday, February 18th: @bookish_afrolatina on TikTok

Sunday, February 19th: @_bookstasam

Sunday, February 19th:

Monday, February 20th: @bookshelfmomma

Tuesday, February 21st: : @abookwormwithwine

Tuesday, February 21st: @readdrinkandbemary

Wednesday, February 22nd: @webreakforbooks

Wednesday, February 22nd: @diveintoagoodbook – REVIEW

Wednesday, February 22nd: on TikTok

Thursday, February  23rd: @the.caffeinated.reader

Thursday, February 23rd: @cmtloveswineandbooks

Friday, February 24th: @jessbeyondthepages  on TikTok

Friday, February 24th: @mrs._lauras_lit – REVIEW

Friday, February 24th: @lyon.brit.andthebookshelf

Saturday, February 25th: @ems_rxlibrary on TikTok

Saturday, February 25th:  @myinfinitetbr on TikTok

Sunday, February 26th: @djreadsbooks

Monday, February 27th: @booksandcoffeemx

Monday, Feb. 27th: @dai2daireader – REVIEW

Monday, February 27th: @bookitqueen – REVIEW

Tuesday, February 28th: @sometimesrobinreads on TikTok

Tuesday, February 28th: @marensreads – REVIEW

Wednesday, March 1st: @thereadingchemist – REVIEW

Wednesday, March 1st: @lbtheloverofbooks

Wednesday, March 1st: Eliot’s Eats – REVIEW

Thursday, March 2nd: IG:  @welovebigbooksandwecannotlieand TT: @welovebigbooks – REVIEW

Thursday, March 2nd: @coolgirlsliketoread on TikTok

Friday, March 3rd: @bookmom22

Friday, March 3rd: IG: @mamabookwormreads  and TT: @mamabookwormreads

Friday, March 3rd: @addictedtobooks86

Saturday, March 4th: @stephreadsalot on TikTok

Monday, March 6th: @bookdragon217 – REVIEW

Monday, March 6th: @notinjersey – REVIEW

Monday, March 6th: @storytimewithshelbs on TikTok

Wednesday, March 8th: @subakka.bookstuff – REVIEW

Wednesday, March 8th: @lindahamiltonwriter on TikTok – REVIEW

Thursday, March 9th: Run Wright and @karen_runwrightreads – REVIEW

Friday, March 10th: 5 Minutes for Books – REVIEW

Friday, March 10th: Kahakai Kitchen – REVIEW

Monday, March 13 th: Helen’s Book Blog – REVIEW

Tuesday, March 14th: Books Cooks Looks – REVIEW

Wednesday, March 15th: @rachellelovesbooks – REVIEW

I’ve been really remiss and totally forgot about Foodies Read.  I’m linking up after a long hiatus.

March 2023 Foodies Read

2 comments to House of Eve and an antique pound cake recipe