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Henna House

Henna House - Nomi Eve I received this book from the goodreads giveaway program.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It's set in 1920s and 1930s Yemen (really, pre-Yemen) in the Jewish community. The main character sets out to tell us of her life and two of her cousins. She's very attached to both of them in her childhood and then betrayed by them later in life (that's not a spoiler -- she tells us that much in the first chapter). In telling the story of her family, she's telling us a cultural story, a story I've never heard. I liked her voice, I liked how much I learned, I loved the setting... there were many beautiful things about this book, and if a combination of henna and Jews in Yemen in the early 20th century appeals to you at all, read it. It's a beautiful book, especially targeted, I think, towards women.

There were a couple things that kept this from being a 5-star for me, and I'll mention them, but keep in mind I'm stingy with my 5-stars and it was a good book. One was that I felt it almost consciously brought to mind the earlier book [b:The Red Tent|4989|The Red Tent|Anita Diamant||1041558], which was set in a much earlier time, of course, but I felt the parallels were purposeful and a little over-the-top. I could be wrong, of course, but I felt them there. Also, most of the history history takes place out of town. The male characters go off and experience the chaos of the world, but even when it comes to town, it feels strangely other-worldly, like it's not really affecting our particular family in the story. I'm not sure how that was achieved, but the bigger movements, the ones taking place outside the household, didn't feel real. The events inside the household, the intensely personal events, very much did feel real.