Seventh Heaven

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"SEVENTH HEAVEN confirms her place as one of the finest writers of her generation."
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Nora is ahead of her time. A single mother in 1950s suburbia, she's strong, sexy, passionate, and mysterious. Everyone in town is touched by her, and in the mirror of her magnetism, people see themselves as never before. With Nora's courageous image ...
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Overview

"SEVENTH HEAVEN confirms her place as one of the finest writers of her generation."
NEWSWEEK
Nora is ahead of her time. A single mother in 1950s suburbia, she's strong, sexy, passionate, and mysterious. Everyone in town is touched by her, and in the mirror of her magnetism, people see themselves as never before. With Nora's courageous image before them, they begin to ask themselves questions they had never asked—finding answers they had never dared to imagine....
"Brilliant and astonishing...Suffused with magic."
COSMOPOLITAN

Hoffman takes readers to a typical surburban community in the 1950s to explore what happens when a strong, passionate, and mysterious woman comes to town: everyone is touched by her, and in the mirror of her magnetism, people see themselves as they never have before. "A consummate joy."--Washington Post Book World.

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Editorial Reviews

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517095799
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/12/1992

Meet the Author

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City in 1952 and grew up on Long Island. Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written when she was twenty-one. Her short fiction and nonfiction works have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and others. Her novel Practical Magic was made into a major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; her young adult novel Aquamarine was made into a movie in 2006. She lives in Boston and New York.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
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      1. Hometown:
        Boston, Massachusetts
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 16, 1952
      2. Place of Birth:
        New York, New York
      1. Education:
        B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
      2. Website:

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 5 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted September 30, 2003

      A bittersweet and realistic novel

      Ms. Hoffman tells the tale of a group of suburban families who, ready or not, are on the cusp of change. A wonderful storyteller, whose able to transform what would otherwise be viewed as a mundane part of every day life, into a thoughtful, as well as page-turning novel. Kudos to you, Ms. Hoffman.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 21, 2002

      A Heavenly Tale

      Sevnth Heaven was a fabulous book. Alice Hoffman takes the reader into a typical suburban town where things appear perfect. However, Ms. Hoffman adds a twist making the book difficult to put down. Although an easy read, this book involves the reader directly in the complex lives of the characters while bringing the reader into the small suburban town.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 31, 2000

      Quick, Fun, Lovable Characters

      I loved it. It is a fast easy read that will leave you thinking.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2011

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 20, 2009

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