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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

The Red Garden (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Alice Hoffman

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889689,938 (3.71)84
Title:The Red Garden
Authors:Alice Hoffman
Info:Broadway (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
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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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.
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  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 |
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! It is like a collection of short stories, but they are all set in, or nearby, the town of Blackwell, MA, and they span the years from it's founding in 1750 to 1986. The stories share similar threads - eels, apples, collies, the river, the garden, and The Apparition - and they all involve the same families and their descendants. Even Johnny Appleseed appears and he plants more than just apple seeds! :-) Definitely a good read! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
This book is a collection of interlocking short stories set in fictional Blackwell, a small village in the Berkshire Mountains in Western Mass. from early America to the late 20th century. As is the case in Hoffman's novels, the short stories are peppered with tidbits of magical realism, including a bear that nurse humans, a specter of young woman who runs along a lake, and a garden that only produces vegetables in red. Although I enjoy this author's novels, I had difficulty with her short stories. The short stories frequently contained themes of love, loss and grief. Unfortunately, I could not get into her world of Blackwell and found myself tediously jumping from one story to the next and was glad when the book was over. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 21, 2016 |
I quite enjoyed Hoffman's collection of linked stories about residents of a small New England town in the Berkshires. The stories travel through time from the town's founding in the 18th century up until the late 20th century. The stories' protagonists are deeply embedded in the town, yet also in individual ways disconnected from it and the other inhabitants. They are touched in some way by the natural magic of their surroundings whether it be a bear, an eel, the local hillside or simply red soil. The characters are quirky, but thoroughly human. A pleasurable read all through. ( )
  janeajones | Nov 29, 2015 |
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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.
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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