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Blackbird House: A Novel (Ballantine…

Blackbird House: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Alice Hoffman

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Title:Blackbird House: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Authors:Alice Hoffman
Info:Ballantine Books (2005), Paperback, 238 pages
Collections:Your library

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Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman (2004)


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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Another magical, delightful book by Alice Hoffman! ( )
  EllenH | Mar 17, 2019 |
Is it a novel or a book of short stories? Surprisingly, it isn't always easy to tell.

Take Elizabeth Strout's “Olive Kitteridge,” for example, or “Mister Monkey” by Francine Prose. Both consist of stories that could stand alone, yet they have characters and a few other points of reference in common. It helps when the author makes it clear what it is, as Edward Rutherfurd does when he tells the history of places like London, Paris and New York in a series of stories, some of which may take place decades or even centuries apart. He calls his books novels, so that is what they are. Other writers aren't as helpful.

I started reading Alice Hoffman's “Blackbird House” (2004) under the impression it was a novel. Soon I was not so sure. Some editions of the book identify it as a novel. Mine does not. Neither the paperback cover nor the copyright page makes it clear. Then I skipped ahead to a conversation with the author at the end of the book, where Hoffman refers to her "stories." So let's call it that, yet her book actually has much in common with Rutherfurd's. While Rutherfurd tells the history of a certain place with related, sometimes reoccurring characters, Hoffman does the same thing, but her place is a fictional New England house. Her "history" tells of the occupants of that house over a couple of centuries.

These stories are beautifully written in that lyrical style Hoffman does so well in her best work. Some end tragically, as with sailors lost at sea, a murder or a suicide, while others paint more positive pictures. As for painting pictures, the most important color on Hoffman's palette is red. In these stories we find red hair, red skin, red pears, red oaks, red-winged blackbirds and so on. There is the more common blackbird in the first story, "The Edge of the World," but after that it is a white blackbird that flies through the stories, as if it were the ghost of that original bird. Some characters view it as an omen, but whether it brings good luck or bad varies from story to story.

Hoffman says in the conversation at the end that “Blackbird House” began with a short story she was asked to write for the Boston Globe. That story, "The Summer Kitchen," inspired the rest.

I love this book, whatever it is. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Nov 28, 2018 |
Hoffman writes short chapters about the owners and residents of a house on Cape Cod that span some 200 years. The white blackbird is the tie to everyone's story beginning with Isaac who is lost at sea in a storm. The color red appears as a part of the stories as well. The vignettes are mostly sad ones that make one think of the frailty of humanity versus the permanency of the land. In spite of this, I felt that the last chapter offered an ending with a sense of hope and optimism. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Such a lovely little book! Perfect for long summer afternoons. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
A book about several people that lived in a particular house over time. Each with their own unique story. ( )
  DeniseLouise | Oct 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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Alice Hoffmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was said that boys should go on their first sea voyage at the age of ten, but surely this notion was never put forth by anyone's mother.
I read books as though I were eating apples, core and all, starved for those pages, hungry for every word that told me about things I didn’t yet have, but still wanted terribly, wanted until it hurt.
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Book description
Nestles in Blackbird House, a small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod, John Hadley dreams that his family will prosper. Over the course of two centuries, many will call this place their home, each linked by the past left between its walls. There is Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books-and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut bit as a horse, certain his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; and Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of love until it is too late. From the late eighteenth century to the modern day, each generation is connected to the ones before-and to the underlying lessons of love, shattering secrets, and the enduring power of hearth and home. (0-345-45593-2)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345455932, Paperback)

With “incantatory prose” that “sweeps over the reader like a dream,” (Philadelphia Inquirer), Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller The Probable Future, with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots
arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family’s lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.

These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

From the writer Time has said tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader’s heart” comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:48 -0400)

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Presents a collection of interconnecting narratives about a number of interesting and intriguing people who live at Blackbird House in Cape Cod, Massachusetts during the British occupation in the eighteenth century.

(summary from another edition)

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