Books: In Full Bloom

The Family Orchard is a rich mix of fact and fiction

We have a limited tolerance for the history of real families other than our own. The exceptions to this rule crop up when the clan in question is particularly influential or glamorous--the Kennedys, Rothschilds, folks of that ilk--or when a family chronicler comes along who can tell tales so irresistibly engaging that the boundary between personal lore and public interest dissolves. That is what Nomi Eve accomplishes in The Family Orchard (Knopf; 316 pages; $25), a first novel in the form of an extended genealogy of the author's forebears, covering some 160 years.

Well, someone is likely to protest, if this...

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