Cover image for Inifinite Kindness by Laurie Blauner

Infinite Kindness

by Laurie Blauner

ISBN 0-930773-80-2

Available from:
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Black Heron Press
PO Box 95676
Seattle, Washington 98145


Praise for Infinite Kindness

"What a voice! Infinite Kindness is a mesmerizing historical narrative which Laurie Blauner invests with her considerable gifts as a poet. Like the best examples of the genre, it is a novel for all times. Its subtle details transport us to a lost era and yet its characters speak as if their uncertainties were our own. This is a book that will stay in your heart for a good long while."

-- Thomas Orton, author of The Lost Glass Plates of Wilfred Eng

"Set in 1867 London, Blaunerís 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 fiancť 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 sťances held to communicate with spirits seem no odder than scientific experiments with such unseen forces as electricity and magnetism. Annís 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 Annís personal struggles and the societal upheavals and debates of the day offer much to ponder. The book may disappoint fans of plot-driven historical sagas, but readers from public and academic libraries willing to accept a poetic and evocative treatment of a fascinating time will appreciate it."

-- Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University (Mankato), from a review in Library Journal

"... a moody exploration of power, rage and desire. Infinite Kindness is uncomfortable and haunting..."

-- Barbara Lloyd McMichael, from a review in the Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Washington)

"...timeless concerns and questions set in Victorian England in a very compelling novel."

-- Alan Caruba in Bookviews (


Excerpt from the novel Infinite Kindness

At the Thompson House, London, 1867

After I killed him he rose up in my dreams again and again. My first time. For the first one. But not after that.

His face loomed, cloudy, indistinct, Martin. I still remembered his wide nose, the terse lips in my dreams. He floated over a straw mattress. Nearby I held a knife high, bringing it down gently upon another boyís sternum, the surgeonís job. In my dreams the blood that was released arced in the air, a thin red waterfall that never seemed to end. I awoke to Martinís white body, enclosed in a uniform, the hovering face.

Once it had not been a dream.

His name was Martin Farland. The first thing he said to me was, "please, kill me." I nodded, ignoring him. Some men groaned in the background. My nurseís cap was tipped to the side; the day was already long. I probably sighed because he repeated himself, "Please, kill me." The first one. He was watching the boy next to him, blood pooling at his ribs, a dirty, red shirt, an amputation of the arm. The way Martin clutched his stomach, I thought: cholera or dysentery. That faraway look in his eyes. The terrible smell all around us, blood and sewers and everything else the body offered. A strip of light from the sealed, frosty window alighted upon his cheek, a bandage. I knew he did not have long, this body that haunted my dreams. I barely saw him, one face among so many. "I do not have anyone," his plea was frozen in the air between us. I nodded. Why not? Men I did not know were dying by the minute. My cap slipped off my head, disappeared among the straw mattresses, the barely visible floor, the dying men. I felt that fabric of sunlight upon my back, warming my spine. I took the photograph he offered me, slipping it into my pocket. "I do not have anybody else," he said. "Thank you." That was how I remembered it. My first one.


Copyright © 2006 Laurie Blauner, all rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction by any means strictly prohibited.