Seventh Heaven: A Novel by Alice Hoffman | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Seventh Heaven

Seventh Heaven

4.1 10
by Alice Hoffman
     
 

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Nora Silk doesn’t really fit in on Hemlock Street, where every house looks the same. She's divorced. She wears a charm bracelet and high heels and red toreador pants. And the way she raises her kids is a scandal. But as time passes, the neighbors start having second thoughts about Nora. The women’s apprehension evolves into admiration. The men’s

Overview

Nora Silk doesn’t really fit in on Hemlock Street, where every house looks the same. She's divorced. She wears a charm bracelet and high heels and red toreador pants. And the way she raises her kids is a scandal. But as time passes, the neighbors start having second thoughts about Nora. The women’s apprehension evolves into admiration. The men’s lust evolves into awe. The children are drawn to her in ways they can't explain. And everyone on this little street in 1959 Long Island seems to sense the possibilities and perils of a different kind of future when they look at Nora Silk...This extraordinary novel by the author of The River King and Local Girls takes us back to a time when the exotic both terrified and intrigued us, and despite our most desperate attempts, our passions and secrets remained as stubbornly alive as the weeds in our well-trimmed lawns. 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A pleasure... Seventh Heaven is not only entertaining—it gives one new respect for tender suburban dreams.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Part American Graffiti, part early Updike, Seventh Heaven simultaneously chronicles the coming of age of a group of teenagers in a Long Island town, and the gradual dissolution of their parents’ repressed, middle-class world...A parable about changing times and changing values.”—The New York Times

“A consummate joy...magical.”— The Washington Post Book World

“Before you know it, you're half in love with the ordinary people who inhabit this book; you're seduced by their susceptibility to the remarkable.”—The New Yorker

“Seamless storytelling...vivid characters…a lively pace and plenty of surprises.”—USA Today

“Powerful...sparkling...Seventh Heaven is a major accomplishment.”—The Boston Globe

“Stirring, stunning...by far [her] best book.”—Time

“Brilliant and astonishing...Suffused with magic. If ever a book deserved to be called ‘haunting,’ this is it. In every sense of the word.”—Cosmopolitan

“Terrific...Seventh Heaven is one of those rare novels so abundant with life it seems to overflow its own pages...Her storytelling gifts are those of a master.”—Newsweek

“Beautifully told.”—People

“Literary magic...A beautiful, deceptively simple story about ordinary life in an ordinary housing development nestled beside the Southern State Parkway...Hoffman breaks down the barriers of time, distance, and reticence. She takes us inside the houses of Hemlock Street and shows us how our ordinary neighbors—like ouselves—are both unique and universal, and worthy of love.”—Newsday

“In the full flowering of her extraordinary talent, Hoffman has produced a wise, poignant and uplifting novel luminous with the sensitive evocation of ordinary lives...As usual she tells more than a compulsively readable story. She does magic, she unsettles you and she leaves you feeling emotionally purged and satisfied.”—Publishers Weekly

“Touching and evocative...Reading it can quickly transport you to Cloud Nine.”—The Houston Post

“[A] deft blend of magical realism and sociological truth.”—Chicago Tribune

“Spellbinding.”—Boston Sunday Herald

Washington Post Book World
A consummate joy...magical.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the full flowering of her extraordinary talent, Hoffman has produced a wise, poignant and uplifting novel luminous with the sensitive evocation of ordinary lives. The setting is a Long Island, N.Y., housing development from 1959 to 1960, a place of conforming, happy families where husbands mow the lawns of the tract houses and wives meet for coffee, where ``safety hung over the neighborhood like a net.'' The arrival of Nora Silk, a brassy divorcee with two young children, is the catalyst for disturbing changes and events, some of them violent. Plucky, impetuous, innocently seductive and a messy housekeeper, Nora is anathema to the subdivision wives, who ostracize her and whose children torment her eight-year-old clairvoyant son, Billy. But as Nora's presence disturbs the community, it is slowly revealed that behind the identical facades of the houses are secret lives of turmoil, restlessness and longing. As in all Hoffman novels, mundane existence is disrupted in surprising ways: families disintegrate, a teenager dies, a placid housewife disappears. And ultimately Nora, whose optimism about her dead-end life is unquenchable, becomes an instrument of healing. Hoffman has intuitive grasp of the thoughts and feelings that are masked by conventional behavior. Like some of her characters, she seems to have a spooky ability to read thoughts; how else to account for her unerring understanding of people of nearly every age and across a broad social spectrum? She has a gift for perceiving the cruelty of children and the wide gulf that yawns between the most loving, attentive parents and their offspring's unknown wishes and deeds. As usual, she tells more than a compulsively readable story. She does magic, she unsettles you and she leaves you feeling emotionally purged and satisfied. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In felicitously recording the lives of newcomers-on-the-block Nora Silk and her sons, baby James and young Billy, Hoffman proves once again that she can tell a charming story about suburbia that is, at once, mundane and oddly transcendent. Nora, a young, sexy divorcee, moves to the suburbs of New York City following her divorce (in 1959 a scandalous event). All alone, she manages work, her sons, and assorted domestic responsibilities with quirky flair, if not thoroughness (and occasional help from assorted magic spells inherited from her grandfather). Hoffman takes the reader back to that apparently innocent time and into a ``nice'' neighborhood, where the sunny replicated exteriors of the houses hide sometimes desperate lives within. Nora and her neighbors signal lifestyles of the future: a woman walks out on her family, another goes back to work; a boy is abused and strikes back; a father leaves home. Combining reality with magic, this novel surpasses At Risk (LJ 7/88). It should attract a wide readership. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/90.-- Lauren Bielski, New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425188484
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/18/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
205,386
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.69(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A pleasure... Seventh Heaven is not only entertaining—it gives one new respect for tender suburban dreams.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Part American Graffiti, part early Updike, Seventh Heaven simultaneously chronicles the coming of age of a group of teenagers in a Long Island town, and the gradual dissolution of their parents’ repressed, middle-class world...A parable about changing times and changing values.”—The New York Times
 
“A consummate joy...magical.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Before you know it, you're half in love with the ordinary people who inhabit this book; you're seduced by their susceptibility to the remarkable.”—The New Yorker
 
“Seamless storytelling...vivid characters…a lively pace and plenty of surprises.”—USA Today
“Powerful...sparkling...Seventh Heaven is a major accomplishment.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Stirring, stunning...by far [her] best book.”—Time
 
“Brilliant and astonishing...Suffused with magic. If ever a book deserved to be called ‘haunting,’ this is it. In every sense of the word.”—Cosmopolitan
 
“Terrific...Seventh Heaven is one of those rare novels so abundant with life it seems to overflow its own pages...Her storytelling gifts are those of a master.”—Newsweek
 
“Beautifully told.”—People
 
“Literary magic...A beautiful, deceptively simple story about ordinary life in an ordinary housing development nestled beside the Southern State Parkway...Hoffman breaks down the barriers of time, distance, and reticence. She takes us inside the houses of Hemlock Street and shows us how our ordinary neighbors—like ouselves—are both unique and universal, and worthy of love.”—Newsday
 
“In the full flowering of her extraordinary talent, Hoffman has produced a wise, poignant and uplifting novel luminous with the sensitive evocation of ordinary lives...As usual she tells more than a compulsively readable story. She does magic, she unsettles you and she leaves you feeling emotionally purged and satisfied.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Touching and evocative...Reading it can quickly transport you to Cloud Nine.”—The Houston Post
 
“[A] deft blend of magical realism and sociological truth.”—Chicago Tribune
 
“Spellbinding.”—Boston Sunday Herald
 
 

Meet the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of fifteen novels: Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortune’s Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children’s books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997).

Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
March 16, 1952
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
Website:
http://www.alicehoffman.com

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