Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Seven Loves"

I liked Valerie Trueblood’s recent short story collection, “Marry or Burn,” so much (see my 4/9/11 post) that I then found and read her 2006 novel, “Seven Loves” (Little, Brown). Trueblood is now one of my favorite contemporary writers. Her writing is wonderful and rich, and brings to mind a term used in anthropology: “thick description.” “Seven Loves” tells the story of May through important events and “loves” throughout her long life. Each chapter focuses on one love, not in chronological order: her mother, her husband, her lover, her son, the police officer who tried to save her son, a co-worker at May’s post-retirement job, and an attendant at the nursing home she lives in at the end of her life. Each of these elicits a different type of love from May, some conventional and some not. There are other loves woven into the chapters too, besides these seven, such as May’s love for her two daughters. The chapters interconnect and sometimes go over the same territory from different angles, sometimes from the perspectives of other characters. May is a wonderful, complex character, precisely portrayed, very believable and knowable, yet full of surprises as well. Her mother is also particularly well described and compelling. May's life illustrates the way we sometimes deeply connect to someone who isn’t necessarily a family member or a romantic attachment. One of the best chapters is the one about May after her stroke; she is shown in her full humanity, the same May we have known since she was a child, a woman who happens to have had a stroke, rather than a person defined by the stroke. This novel is full of insights and telling details; it was a great pleasure to read. Highly recommended.


  1. I am going to go put this on my library "queue" right now!

  2. Mary, I am quite sure you will like this book very much. Please let me know!


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