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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
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The Red Garden (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Alice Hoffman

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932719,353 (3.72)84
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Title:The Red Garden
Authors:Alice Hoffman
Info:Broadway (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Fiction
Rating:****
Tags:Massachusetts, Magical Realism, Folklore, Small Town, Short Stories, Read 2012

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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
I love Alice Hoffman's writing and this is a very good book, but not as outstanding as some of her others. ( )
  Gcleare | Oct 16, 2016 |
The Red Garden is a history of the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, from the first residents to the present. The first residents barely survive the harsh winter trapping rabbits, fishing eel from the river and drinking milk from a slumbering bear. Eventually the mother bear was killed by a trapper and the one surviving baby cub was killed and buried in what became known as the "red garden". From the original settlers a timeline is followed telling a story from each period of time that correlates in some way to the red garden up until current times. Each story is unique and mystical which stands on its own but all come eventually back to where it all began. From the drowning girl to the monster of Blackwell and the fisherman's wife and many more stories that fill the history of Blackwell and make it an intriguing small town to become acquainted with. ( )
  vibrantminds | Jun 21, 2016 |
The Red Garden – Alice Hoffman

4 stars

The Red Garden is a collection of short stories that revolve around the history of a small town in the Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains. The bears, bees, eels and winters of this isolated community permeate the stories in magical, metaphorical manner. Each story has a central, eccentric character whose life is somehow different from the norm. There is an underlying mystical or magical realism that ties each of the stories to the next, even when the characters are completely unaware of the connection. I liked these stories. Every story has a distinctive stamp that sets it apart. The history that links the stories adds a bit of depth but is not necessary to understanding the individual narratives. The mostly female, main characters of each story were very interesting, but they seemed to hold themselves so much apart from their own communities, that I felt they were also holding me at arms distance. I still can’t decide if I would like to know more about any of them or if I’m just as happy to let them be in their short stories.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This is not a novel, but a series of interconnected stories spanning the entire history of the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts. The passions and loves of generations are explored through Hoffman’s lyrical prose. Rebels and outcasts are the heroes of these tales.

Although I have not been impressed with her last few books, Hoffman proves she can still pack an emotional punch with a few brief words. I think I would have enjoyed this more if the stories were longer.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Like most of Hoffman's books, this story is a telling of everyday history, lightly laced with magic. The stories, as they come down through the generations, are charming and the linkage of one generation with another tells a story all its own. ( )
  turtlesleap | Apr 10, 2016 |
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In memory of Albert J. Guerard, the great critic, writer, and teacher, who in his fifty years at Harvard and Stanford universities changed the voice of American fiction and also changed my life
First words
The town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, changed its name in 1786.
Quotations
He felt...as if the cells of his body had expanded to include fir trees, foxes, streams of green water. (p. 222)
Anyone else might have guessed the garden she planted would be white, but Charles had seen it all exactly as she'd crafted it before he went away, the flash of scarlet, the trail of blood, the inside story of who she was. (p.66)
"I intend to remind her that she's alive." (p.38)
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Book description
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.
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.
From the town's founder, a brave young woman from England who has no fear of blizzards or bears, to the young man who runs away to New York City with only his dog for company, the characters in The Red Garden are extraordinary and vivid: a young wounded Civil War soldier who is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman who meets a fiercely human historical character, a poet who falls in love with a blind man, a mysterious traveler who comes to town in the year when summer never arrives.
At the center of everyone’s life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.
Beautifully crafted, shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.
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A young wounded civil war solider is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman meets a fiercely human historical character, a poet falls in love with a blind man, and a mysterious traveler comes to town in the year when summer never arrives. At the center of everyone's life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.… (more)

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