cover image Seven Years

Seven Years

Peter Stamm, trans. from the German by Michael Hofmann, Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-59051-394-1

Swiss author Stamm (Agnes) examines the complications of love and attraction in this captivating novel. Alex and his gorgeous and brilliant wife, Sonia, run an architecture firm and have a lovely daughter. It is the life he always thought he deserved, but during the fateful seventh year of marriage Alex scratches a familiar itch with Ivona, an old flame who is so tremendously plain and boring that Alex considers himself too good for her, and yet, for reasons inexplicable, his attraction to her runs hotter than it ever has for Sonia. His revulsion toward Ivona's fundamental underwhelmingness gets a lengthy—at times, tediously so—examination, as does the magnetism that pulls him to her and his own fiery self-hatred. Ego, passion, and deception run wild, but the novel's strength is found in the characters Stamm has created: powerfully imperfect, sometimes despicable, horribly conflicted, and always believable far beyond the archetypes that too often pop up in novels of marital ennui. (Mar.)