On the horizon, the Smokies formed a rolling blue rim notched with knobs like the knuckles on a fist.
Down in the valley, the lazy ochre river drifted toward the mountains, carrying a leafy poplar branch on which perched five cawing crows. Wisps of cloud were floating across the summer sky, furling like breaking waves. Gradually, they assembled themselves into Molly's features, bits of cerulean blue becoming her irises. She said in her voice that had always been too husky for such a small person, "You may think I'm dead, Jude, but I'm not."
From Tennessee's sunlit Smoky Mountains, to New York City during the Stonewall era, and ultimately to Paris, Five Minutes in Heaven follows a young woman named Jude - haunted by her dreams, ghosts, and longings - on an epic search for love, intimacy, and answers to questions she cannot allow herself to forget.
How can a childhood passion disappear in a puff of smoke... or a woman's beauty and intelligence mask her wounds and her capacity to betray? Is it possible to find a love that satisfies both the longings of the heart and the hungers of the flesh - and are there unseen forces guiding Jude through it all?
Five Minutes in Heaven takes up the histories of Molly, Jude's brave, indomitable childhood friend; Sandy, a gay man with a taste for danger; Anna, an infinitely desirable married woman; and Jasmine, a quintessentially elegant and enigmatic Parisienne.
With Molly, Jude experiences the tumults of childhood passion for a friend - a love that proves more fragile than anyone might have suspected. In New York City as a graduate student, she discovers barriers to intimacy she has tried to ignore. Stung, she finds refuge in love for a woman. Jude's journey finally takes her to Paris, down the twisting corridors of her own psyche, and finally to a richer understanding of herself.
Full of the wry wisdom, unconstrained humor, and passionate intensity that are the hallmarks of Lisa Alther's style - and have brought her to bestseller lists around the world - this powerfully sensual and profoundly moving novel is Lisa Alther's most sophisticated and spellbinding tale yet.
"Nobody can do a personal-quest novel like Lisa Alther. Her new heroine is so consistently likable and interesting that I found myself wishing she would turn up on my doorstep."
- Florence King
"I love Lisa Alther!"
- Dorothy Allison
"FIVE MINUTES IN HEAVEN is a little bit of heaven!"
- Rita Mae Brown