Infinite Kindness (Hardcover)

By Laurie Blauner

Black Heron Press, 9780930773809, 234pp.

Publication Date: March 16, 2007

List Price: 22.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In 1867 London, England, Ann Russell, a nurse and a veteran of the Crimean War, deals with issues of euthanasia, medicine, war, sexual identity, and spirituality. In the Crimea, Ann worked with Florence Nightingale; back in England, she still consults her for advice and support. Ann struggles with the transition to civilian life while working at a charity hospital. She also commits acts of euthanasia, a practice she adopted when desperately wounded English soldiers begged her to kill them. Lyrical and questioning, this historical novel explores the timeless concerns of life, death, compassion, and personal growth as viewed through the prism of Victorian England.

About the Author

The Bohemians is Laurie Blauner's third novel. Her second novel, Infinite Kindness, won an Arts Special Project award from 4Culture, a Seattle arts organization. She has other grants and awards, including an NEA and an Artist Trust award. She has published six books of poetry. Her poetry and fiction have been published in The Nation, The New Republic, Georgia Review, New Orleans Review and other journals.

Praise For Infinite Kindness

“Set in 1867 London, Blauner’s atmospheric and intriguing second novel (after Somebody) centers on private nurse Ann Russell, who is still haunted by her service in the Crimean War. Ann displays the photo of a soldier whose suffering she relieved through euthanasia, convincing others that she mourns for a fiancé and thus escaping entanglements with men while she explores her sexual attraction to women. Other tensions and uncertainties abound in this Victorian setting, in which séances held to communicate with spirits seem no odder than scientific experiments with such unseen forces as electricity and magnetism. Ann’s graphic descriptions of filthy hospital conditions and horrific injuries help justify her acts of “mercy,” which result in the deaths of others in her care. Because she takes laudanum while ministering to patients, many of her accounts have a surreal quality. Her estrangement from her family, compulsive correspondence with Florence Nightingale, and hints of past breakdowns raise additional questions about her mental stability. Yet Ann’s personal struggles and the societal upheavals and debates of the day offer much to ponder… a poetic and evocative treatment of a fascinating time.” — Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato

“Blauner creates images rich with feeling and color, transforming the seemingly insignificant into the extraordinary.” — Willamette Week

“Somebody is a poet’s novel in every way you could hope for. Her words layer and dart and resonate the way images do in dreams.” — Rebecca Brown, author of The Gifts of the Body and Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary 

“Laurie Blauner has written a wonderfully poignant novel… I was taken with the language and the amazing images and metaphors.” — James Welch, author or The Heartsong of Charging Elk and Winter in the Blood

“Strikingly original.” — Matt Briggs, Tablet