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Seventh heaven
Alice Hoffman
Adult Fiction HOFFMAN

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From Publishers' 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nora Silk
Female
Divorced
mysterious.



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