Seven Loves

Seven Loves

2.5 8
by Valerie Trueblood
     
 

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Who most deeply affects our lives? Sometimes it is those who touch us briefly, even unexpectedly. For May Nilsson, these include the lover she takes in her forties; the handsome, troubled young rebel she is determined to rescue; the police officer who inadvertently plays a major role in her greatest catastrophe.


Moving back and forth in time, from

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Overview

Who most deeply affects our lives? Sometimes it is those who touch us briefly, even unexpectedly. For May Nilsson, these include the lover she takes in her forties; the handsome, troubled young rebel she is determined to rescue; the police officer who inadvertently plays a major role in her greatest catastrophe.


Moving back and forth in time, from May's childhood to her eighth decade, SEVEN LOVES weaves together the strands of an ordinary life made extraordinary by the complex passions that drive it.

Editorial Reviews

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Seven Loves is an elegantly crafted novel that tells the story of a woman whose nature is changed by -- and revealed through -- the seven individuals she has loved. Trueblood's protagonist is May, a working mother and wife. Readers learn all about May in each of the stages of her life, from her girlhood to her later years as an elderly widow. But rather than telling May's story chronologically, Trueblood organizes her debut into seven chapters, each exploring one of the loves of May's life. It's an innovative structure that illuminates not merely events but the people who have helped make May the woman she is.

In seemingly random order, we read about May's interactions with her husband, her daughters, her tragic son, her mother, a coworker, and a man with whom she has an affair. And we gradually come to understand -- and even love -- the white-haired woman sitting in a coffee shop who inhabits the opening pages. A poet as well as a fiction writer, Trueblood has a flair for understated writing that's all the more masterful for its simplicity. An artful study of character and life, it will leave readers with a sense of wonder about the loves of their own lives, and the way they have helped shape who they are, and who they are yet to become. (Fall 2006 Selection)
Publishers Weekly
May Nilsson, a retired Seattle high school English teacher, looks back on her life through the episodic prism of those she has cherished. At center stage are May's mother, Anna, a fierce and uncompromising 1930s labor organizer, and May's son, Nick, a drug addict who plunges to a pathetic death to avoid arrest. When May was pregnant with Nick in 1960, she feared that his father might not be her husband, but her African-American lover, Nathanael, a high school principal and married father of six sons. May eventually embraces Arne, the penitent policeman who chased Nick to his death in a freezing lake. Loose plotting and overly lyrical language mar Trueblood's debut, but her depiction of May's most complex love, her husband, Cole, is keen and compelling. The pair's intensely passionate bond is evident even in their waning years after a lifetime of loss and betrayal. (June 21) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Trueblood, a contributing editor to the American Poetry Review, has written a fine debut novel about family, love, and loss. Her story of protagonist May Nilsson is divided into seven sections, each dipping into a different aspect of her full but rocky life. Interweaving the past and present, the author first introduces readers to May's long-suffering husband, Cole, and daughters Vera and Laura. We then learn that May had an affair with Nathanael, a high school principal and father of six sons, and that after giving birth to son Nick-the love and the heartbreak of her life-May began fearing that Nathanael might be his father. A glimpse into May's past also introduces her mother, a passionate labor activist who passes along a thirst for everything around her. And, as May grows older, people outside of her family, such as Jackie at the office, form a bond with her and find a place in her heart. The novel teems with well-drawn and appealing characters. It belongs in literary collections of large public libraries.-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Unconventionally structured debut novel about a conventional, but moving, life. May Nilsson has had seven abiding loves in her long life, and each forms the subject of a chapter in this finely drawn and emotionally rich novel. The seven sections include the usual suspects-husband, son, lover and mother-but also throw in some surprising characters-a coworker from a temporary job May takes after retirement, her nursing-home aide and the police officer indirectly responsible for her son's death. The chapters are not presented in chronological order; readers meet May after her retirement, and meet her lover before her husband, and her husband only after he has retired and suffered a heart attack. Although May's mother dies very early in her life, the section devoted to May's youth is the last, most important section of the novel. Rather than depicting the arc of one woman's experiences as they shape and refine her personality, the book's structure argues that each moment in an individual's life represents an entire world in itself. People, for Trueblood, are powerfully present, perhaps never more so than when they try to come to terms with the past. Each of May's seven loves elicits a different version of May, foregrounds different passions, intensifies different characteristics and desires. No matter that each chapter covers only a few weeks in her life, and that for the most part, Trueblood only gestures at the everyday routines that hold May's character together; the whole trajectory of May's life emerges in its fullness by the end. This is a rare assured and capable debut, filled with breathtaking turns of phrase and pulsing with the rhythm of experience, despair and love. A masterfulwork-its emotional range and the poetry of its language evoke Virginia Woolf, and its attention to detail will remind readers of Anita Brookner's work.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316058933
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
06/21/2006
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Trueblood is a contributing editor to The American Poetry Review, and her essays, articles, and poetry have appeared in The Northwest Review, The Iowa Review, the Seattle Times, and Seattle Weekly, among others. She lives in Seattle.

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