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The Red Garden: A Novel Paperback – August 2, 2011
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“[A] dreamy, fabulist series of connected stories . . . [These] tales, with their tight, soft focus on America, cast their own spell.”—The Washington Post
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. 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 and shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.
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-People, four stars
“[A] dreamy, fabulist series of connected stories... These... tales, with their tight, soft focus on America, cast their own spell.”
-The Washington Post
"Hoffman’s writing is so beautiful it’s almost painful to read... Hoffman makes the magic she writes about feel so real, as though I could at any moment, find myself in the town of Blackwell and the mysterious garden that bears only red fruit."
-Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters
“The Red Garden is recommended to readers who enjoy, in addition to beautiful prose, magical realism and different narrators over time... Alice Hoffman is an author not to be missed.”
-Historical Novels Review
"Alice Hoffman, herself a shining star among American novelists, possesses the stunning ability to express the numinous in the most prosaic language. Somehow, without elaborate wordplay, she manages to communicate a yearning interpretation of the life we all live, opening the reader’s eyes to the otherworldly riddles that make things appear just a trifle askew—when we notice them, that is. And Alice Hoffman certainly notices them. One secret of her ongoing appeal, year after year, book after book, is her keen perception. And in The Red Garden, Hoffman delivers a body of stories that explores the depths of reality as well as its enduring quirkiness."
"In gloriously sensuous, suspenseful, mystical, tragic, and redemptive episodes, Hoffman subtly alters her language, from an almost biblical voice to increasingly nuanced and intricate prose reflecting the burgeoning social and psychological complexities her passionate and searching characters face in an ever-changing world."
-Booklist, starred review
"Hoffman has done it again, crafting a poignant, compelling collection of fairy tales suffused with pathos and brightened by flashes of magic. Her fans, as well as those of magical realism in general, will be enchanted."
-Library Journal, starred review
"Fans of Hoffman’s brand of mystical whimsy will find this paean to New England one of her most satisfying."
"The novel moves forward in linked stories, each building on (but not following from) the previous and focusing on a wide range of chracters....The result is a certain ethereal detachment as Hoffman’s deft magical realism ties one woman’s story to the next even when they themselves are not aware of the connection. The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion."
About the Author
- Publisher : Crown; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307405974
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307405975
- Item Weight : 7.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #64,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The book is magically and beautifully written, and stayed with me long after I finished reading it.
The book is indeed interlocking vignettes connected by themes, motifs, family ties between the characters, and one small town. You don't actually need to keep track of all the family connections since the specifics aren't necessary to follow any of the stories (and I think this is where a lot of reviewers are getting stuck). It's enough to just let it rest in the back of your mind that many of these people are related. So I don't think it's as hard to follow as many are making it out to be. In a way, the structure reminded me of Alan Moore's Voice Of The Fire, but the tone is completely different- much gentler, much brighter, much more wholesome.
The writing itself is very nice. It evokes emotion very well in a gentle, empathetic way. The imagery, setting, and characters are vivid.
If you want escapism or if you don't want to be reminded that bad things happen, this book isn't for you. If wholesomeness to you requires adhesion to strict conservative Christian values or something of the sort, this book also isn't for you. But if you're looking for reassurance that life will go on and you will heal despite bad things happening, then this may be the book for you.
I have yet to find an Alice Hoffman book that has not enchanted me from beginning to end. Thankful to add this to my ever-growing collection of Alice Hoffman's works!
Written by Alice Hoffman, this is the intriguing story of people who lived in a very small town in the Berkshires in Massachusetts—from its founding 300 years ago to today. Even Johnny Appleseed and Emily Dickinson have roles in this town's history. This is a novel, but each chapter is really a short story with a distinct beginning, middle, and end, yet each is connected with the others through shared characters and a mysterious garden where sorrows are buried. In this enigmatic garden, which has distinctly red soil, only red plants will grow. If they're not naturally red, then they turn red.
This novel-short story hybrid is not the easiest format for a writer or a reader, but Hoffman is an expert, and each chapter seamlessly moves into the next for a compelling and engaging book. The story is held together with tall tales and legends of the past (but we readers know what really happened!) and secrets that are slowly revealed. There is love and heartbreak, births and deaths, struggle and survival, hurting and healing, evil and virtue, fear and courage, apparitions and reality. This is a powerful, compassionate story of life.
Meanwhile, the descriptions of the blizzards, the black flies, and the eels swimming in the river are so vivid you'll feel the cold, hear the buzzing, and see the black oozing in the water as it rapidly flows downstream.
If you're looking for a literary treat, indulge in this enchanting novel.