Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman
Another Alice Hoffman book off the list though it left me a little bit wanting. The American suburbs, where every house looks the same and standing out is much avoided. It was 1950s and one day in a Long Island suburbia, there arrives Nora Silk who appears to be the embodiment of the opposite. Nora is eager to be close to her neighbors but everyone is not so keen.
Behind the neat gardens and nicely painted doors, there lies the secret troubles of its residents. It seems Nora's unwelcome presence stirs upheavals among the neighborhood and it was when things started to get interesting.
Seventh Heaven was a much muted pleasure than Hoffman's other works. Perhaps it was merely a subjective matter, not having lived in the suburbs myself. The smaller dose of magic in it was almost drowned by the placed normality and the realities of its time. Nevertheless, this intimate portrayal allows me to venture into their world and those who could relate to it so much would surely enjoy reading it. Strangely enough (or not at all) it reminds me a little of that film with Evan Rachel Wood, Little Secrets.
Nora is quite a character though. I am amused by and liked her. She's not so bothered by her otherness and she keeps to her own style. In fact, she's a figure that is quite easy to get jealous of (and don't the neighborhood wives know it!).
Hoffman's signature touch: her delightful prose and touch of magic, is still on point. Some characters I care a little more than the rest. Possibly I got weirded out by a few twists and got a bit winded with the hopping narrative. It's not quite there with Practical Magic and Nightbird but still a quirky read. There are times it's nice to read about an odd fellow putting a chink in everyone's placid and banal routine then turn everything upside down.
A bestselling novel of suburban daydreams and the magic of one woman who makes her own way in the world.
On Hemlock Street, the houses are identical, the lawns tidy, and the families traditional. A perfect slice of suburbia, this Long Island community shows no signs of change as the 1950s draw to a close—until the fateful August morning when Nora Silk arrives.
Recently divorced, Nora mows the lawn in slingback pumps and climbs her roof in the middle of the night to clean the gutters. She works three jobs, and when her casseroles don’t turn out, she feeds her two boys—eight-year-old Billy and his baby brother, James—Frosted Flakes for supper. She wears black stretch pants instead of Bermuda shorts, owns twenty-three shades of nail polish, and sings along to Elvis like a schoolgirl.
Though Nora is eager to fit in on Hemlock Street, her effect on the neighbors is anything but normal. The wives distrust her, the husbands desire her, and the children think she’s a witch. But through Nora’s eyes, the neighborhood appears far from perfect. Behind every neatly trimmed hedge and freshly painted shutter is a family struggling to solve its own unique mysteries. Inspired by Nora, the residents of Hemlock Street finally unlock the secrets that will transform their lives forever.
A tale of extraordinary discoveries, Seventh Heaven is an ode to a single mother’s heroic journey and a celebration of the courage it takes to change.
Title: Seventh Heaven
Author: Alice Hoffman
Genre: Adult Fiction, Magic Realism, Women Fiction
Published: September 23, 2014 (first published 1990)
Publisher: Open Road Media
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (3 and half cups - A 60s suburban daydream filled with trimmed neighborhoods and hidden family dramas behind pretty doors. Bittersweet and a lot like suburban life, indeed.)