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Seven Years [Kindle Edition]

Peter Stamm , Michael Hofmann
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life torn between two very different women-and he can't make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, beautiful, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.

Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland's most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.


Product Description

Review

How many writers have written with this degree of brutal perceptiveness and wisdom about the indeterminate depths of heterosexual desire? Wharton, Roth (sometimes), James Salter, Kundera. Stamm inscribes his name on that august list. --The Times

I love this novel … It has the makings of an existential classic. --Sunday Telegraph

Stamm has a fine sense of the pregnant moment that signals things falling apart … By the time you get to the end, you want to start again. --Intelligent Life

About the Author

Peter Stamm was born in 1963 and now lives in Winterthur, Switzerland. His prize-winning books have been translated into twenty languages.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 306 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XFRMI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #235,479 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Well Written But Mostly Unsatisfying Read 15 April 2012
By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Peter Stamm's latest novel 'Seven Years' is first person narrated by German architect, Alex, who tells us the story of his relationship with two very different women: his wife, Sonia, and his sometimes mistress, Ivona. The story which is set mostly in Munich, moves backwards and forwards in time as Alex relates how, as a student, he first meets Ivona, a young Polish woman, in a beer garden; he tells us: "I noticed that she was watching me... I felt like hurting her, being rude to her. Her ugliness and pokiness were a provocation to me..." Yet although Alex is, in many ways, repulsed by Ivona's physical unattractiveness, he somehow finds himself irresistibly drawn to her, visiting her several times in her dreary bedsitting room with the aim of seducing her.

Sonia is an entirely different kettle of fish; a fellow architecture student, she is beautiful, intelligent, from a wealthy family and a different social class to Alex; she admires Le Corbusier, where Alex favours Aldo Rossi; she is confident and ambitious where Alex is more cautious and less driven. Alex does not feel he has a chance with Sonia, he finds there is something unapproachable about her: "She was like one of those dolls whose clothes are sewn onto their bodies" and he cannot imagine she would ever go to bed with him. But Alex is wrong; Sonia has decided that she wants Alex, and what she wants, she usually gets, and before long they are married and have set up their own architecture firm and look forward to a life of shared ideas and values. However, Alex cannot settle and when, after seven years together, Sonia has not become pregnant, he starts thinking about Ivona and begins visiting her again even though he knows he is behaving badly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quietly devastating 2 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Stamm builds with patience and understating accuracy. Class, gender and character are all under the microscope of his apparently simple language. There is not a question of liking or sympathising with any of the characters as they are revealed in a reality which seems beyond those terms.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Eternal Triangle 23 Dec. 2013
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
A bleak but oddly compelling account of an unusual version of the traditional love triangle. Alex, an architecture student, meets Polish illegal immigrant Ivona in a bar. Ivona is plump, humourless and drably dressed, and Alex's first reaction is repulsion. However, this is soon followed by a strange feeling of attraction, and over the next months he begins to visit Ivona regularly. The visits follow a predictable pattern - the pair kiss and embrace fiercely, but never have full intercourse, and Ivona seems oddly passive throughout. Meanwhile, Alex falls for a fellow student, the cool and beautiful Sonia. As he enters a relationship with Sonia, he realizes that he should give up Ivona - and for a while he does. But Sonia's coolness in bed, upper middle-class family and her bold career ambitions have a dampening effect on Alex's ardour, and soon he's trying to balance both women - with Sonia as his acknowledged girlfriend and Ivona as his secret mistress (though they still do not have a full relationship). When Sonia discovers what's going on, she is understandably hurt, and Alex, terrified of losing her, offers to dump Ivona and marry Sonia. To his surprise Sonia agrees. Seven years pass, during which Alex and Sonia establish their own architectural business, buy a house, and try to start a family. But Sonia cannot become pregnant, and her continued coolness in bed begins to depress Alex, although he still needs her in his life. So when Ivona contacts Alex to ask for some money, he immediately agrees to see her - and without meaning too, finds himself starting a full relationship with Ivona. But then it turns out that Ivona has more than one motive for wanting to see Alex again - and what happens next will ensure that Alex's relationship with both women will change for good. Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars same old same old 11 Sept. 2013
By monica
Format:Paperback
2 1/2 stars

This seems to me the sort of book that might if written in English have been a Booker Prize or National Book Award nominee: middle-brow, mid-market, and doggedly domestic with smooth if unremarkable writing free of freshness, atmosphere and of any other quality that would make it stand out from similar books. In fact, for me it was so nearly free of interest that in the end I resorted to skimming.

The plot's been ably sketched in another review, but it's a plot Stamm doesn't build upon: A great deal might have been made of the narator's almost obsessional desire for Ivona, of the sense of power their encounters give him, of Ivona's own obsession with whatsisname and its effect on her life. But it wasn't. After the standard account of Uni Days, Uni Mates, & Uni Ambitions the book settles into flatness. If you can imagine someone whose diary entries are brief notes on the day just passed going back later to flesh them out, you can imagine what much of this book is like--'Visited a German battlement--kissed Sonia.' 'Party at Ruediger's. His mother's gemutlich. Met a boring veterinarian there.' 'Stayed in my room after I got back from work. I think Birgit's going off the deep end.' Expand those notes into long passages and you have a Seven Years.

By the way, anyone who's not already learned how misleading--'the makings of an existential classic'--or downright idiotic--'a novel to make you doubt your own dogma'--blurb can be couldn't find a better lesson than the cautionary one coming with this book.
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