She crafts stories that are tinged with supernatural elements, embrace old familiar tales and yet are told anew, in an utterly engaging way. He thought of the way the doves had flown up into the sky all in a rush, startled by gunfire, and then all he could think was that despite everything that happened, he was alive. This was the perfect book to read early on. Alice Hoffman is a storyteller. Beautifully crafted and shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.
The Look-No-Further apple tree and the Eel River are major presences, if not characters in themselves. . The Red Garden introduces us to the luminous and haunting world of Blackwell, Massachusetts, capturing the unexpected turns in its history and in our own lives. Alice Hoffman has a knack for writing and a gift with her words. I appreciated Hoffman's breadth of storytelling -- so many lives in 250 years! But knowing only the elements of a town is akin to describing a person by listing physical characteristics, and the parts of Blackwell never congeal to become a unique and vivid place of its own. She shows a new world inside of our own world.
There are mythical figures to be seen here, as well as spirits, some folks who are of questionable species, people with craft-y skills, people who have been damaged by the world, and those with a drive to wander. Her fans, as well as those of magical realism in general, will be enchanted. The Red Garden is such a book. The idea of places and objects that show up again and again through time, relating to different characters in different eras is pretty fascinating, but I think, because the characters were so under-developed, and one didn't care that much about any one in particular, it was hard to fully appreciate the weighty significance as many encountered the recurrent tropes. Many bear bones look a lot like human bones so that could have been the red herring for awhile. For me, this was the most beautiful time of the year in Berkshire County, before the leaves all turned color and dropped away.
Due to my busy schedule, I often read right before I go to bed. Emily Dickinson visits from nearby Amherst. She was brave, strong and amazing. In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters' lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions. You figure you know why the garden only grows red plants, but when you are told for sure it is not exciting or compelling at all. She tramped over the frozen marshes, ignoring the patches of briars. I loved it from the first chapter, which tells the story of how a group of settlers got stranded during winter of 1750 in Massachusetts, and they ended up forming a town.
She knows how to frame a story and then how to take you along so you need to know what's going to happen and how it ends. It is impossible in my opinion not to love and admire the outstanding almost all of her books are 5 stars , and getting closest to her is that is great in full length novel as well as short stories. It's a series of linked short stories taking place in the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts over a span of 300 years. Several of the inhabitants were descendants of the founding settlers, families who had intermarried often enough so that many of the women had red hair, with mercurial tempers that suited their coloring. I love that area so I was predisposed favorably to like the book even A friend and I are on an Alice Hoffman kick and he encouraged me to grab a copy of The Red Garden. This book has them all, so of course I liked this book. Alice Hoffman always offers a good read and I found this one better than most.
Loss, grief and struggle are familiar Hoffman themes. By the end of the book, the idea of bear has been so transformed by the forces of time and moderated repetition that a bear's skeleton in one of the last stories takes on a terrifying significance that the real live beast hadn't possessed in Hallie's initial story. I'd like to hear from anyone who enjoyed this book. Each protagonist in each entry was odd or did odd things or was considered to be unusual to the other townspeople. The main character is the town of Blackwell and it's founding family. And in The Red Garden, Hoffman delivers a body of stories that explores the depths of reality as well as its enduring quirkiness.
For example, the original heroine, Hallie, hated her husband and wished he were dead, so she named everything Dead Husband's River or Dead Husband's Meadow. Beautifully crafted, shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is a transforming glimpse into small town America, presenting us with 300 years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty and redemption in a web of tales where characters lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions. Which was perfect as there was one story I wanted to revisit and did so via the print. A very entertaining little read. The opening story, The Bear House, describes the arrival of the first settlers to the uninhabited wilderness and the set up of a first community, Bearsville in 1750 - named so after the many bears who roamed these woods for centuries before man ever set foot in them. And Alice Hoffman certainly notices them. It has some lightly magical properties.
Bears figure prominently, both as a source of comfort and danger. This is a series of short stories spanning around 250 years covering the people of Blackwell. Honestly, there are only so many animal and child deaths I can read about in a book before I put it down. I loved this book and was facinated by the way each chapter linked another character with on previous one. I really enjoyed this one, and will have to check out more by this author. As you can tell, I did not like this book. I think that was intended to show the ways the community melted people together over the years, but it was distracting to me.
And yes, there is the garden that turns everything planted in it to red, no matter its original color. It really shows the progression of people in the town and makes you feel like everything in life in according to a master plan and everything is linked together. Alice Hoffman is, instead, a restrained writer, a gentle and quiet writer, and one who leaves the stylistic pyrotechnics to others. Alice Hoffman can turn a phrase and capture attention, and I doubt most readers would truly regret the moments they'd spent with The Red Garden - a book which would go well in in the warmth of a home during winter, with tea and biscuits and a comfortable chair. In general, I dislike magical realism, but I love the brand of magical realism written by Alice Hoffman. For all the moving through time, this book actually didn't spare much time for historical detail or the kind of almost fetishistic description of daily life in other periods that many historic novelists indulge in in a good way.