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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman - Excerpt

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman - Excerpt

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3.69

(236)
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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.

To read more about The Red Garden or Alice Hoffman please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com
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.

To read more about The Red Garden or Alice Hoffman please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com

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Publish date: Jan 25, 2011
Added to Scribd: Jan 18, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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TheRED GARDEN
A Reader’s Guide277An Interview with Alice Hoffman283About the Author289

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bksgoddess reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I always enjoy Alice Hoffman's books. This book is a series of interconnected stories that all take place in a small town in the mountains--beginning with the town's founding in the 1700s and continuing until the present day. Many of the characters are related to each other, and it was interesting trying to keep them straight in my mind. I read this book on my new eReader & enjoyed the afterwords.

bluesgal79 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
What I have loved about so many of Hoffman's books is her ability to interject the magical into the mundane. She does so here, too, and while this collection of tightly connected stories is woven with a light touch it is no less moving for it.

We are witness to the founding and development of Blackwell, MA through the eyes of succeeding generations. Interestingly enough, while the red garden of the title and the Eel River leave their indelible mark on all these generations, the deepest roots in this community are the gifts left behind by those who chose to leave it.

This isn't my favorite of her books, but I have no trouble recommending it to fans of her earlier works.
pmaurer_11 reviewed this
Collection of short stories, starting with settlement of US. Focuses on one section of land, and tells stories of subsequent families.Depressing story of civil war families. Stopped reading early on
thewanderingjew_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
In just under 300 pages, Alice Hoffman takes the reader on a journey through the history of a small town in Massachusetts, Bearsville, aka Blackwood, aka Blackwell, which was settled quite by accident. Four families, traveling with William Grady and his wife, Hillie, become lost in a snowstorm and flounder. Hillie, the stronger and more industrious of the two is ultimately the one responsible for successfully settling there and for their survival. This small town of four families, Mott, Partridge, Starr, and Grady, soon grows to ten, changes its name, prospers and grows still further. Some other names that appear are Jacob, Kelly, Flynn, and Chapman. New families arrive, marriages, births, and deaths ensue. We follow their thread from the 1700’s to the Civil War to the Depression and another war, right up until and into the 21st century.Because the story felt more like a collection of short stories, it wasn’t always cohesive. While interesting, it was often confusing, especially with an audio book since the listener can’t easily review what has just been read. Sometimes the characters jumbled together and names got mislaid in my memory. So many characters were highlighted in the 14 chapters, it was sometimes hard to find the thread connecting them, but there definitely was a thread. A name would occur early on and then disappear only to suddenly recur in a later chapter. Often, it was hard to remember the trail and hold onto the continuity. It was more like there was suddenly an aha moment when everything would click and come together.Many themes returned throughout the stories: the color red as in blood, apples, red vegetables, red fruit, red soil, red flowers; trees, as in the tree of life; babies born out of wedlock. There were bones, runaways, poets, bears, dogs and other creatures, blindness, magic and the supernatural, gardens with secrets. It was almost as if these qualities were part of some cosmic DNA. There were chance meetings that turned into kismet for some of the characters and there were many moments of tragedy and sadness followed by a story of survival, all of which together were able to knit all of the families that originally settled into a cohesive whole.There were many beautifully told stories of love and devotion, loss and sadness. The times were hard and courage and perseverance were necessary qualities for survival and success. Each of the families moved through the generations in an almost karma-like fashion, with the character’s descendants morphing and changing, growing into themselves from generation to generation.With the passage of time, the garden goes through various stages of being planted and productive or lying fallow, in much the same way as the character’s lives progress, depending on the family living near or in the original Brady house at a particular time, but the garden is definitely something that links them all.After more than two centuries, the descendants of a Mott and a Grady, come full circle and return to their small town beginnings, once again making the garden a sacred place and making the book feel as if it is almost beginning again.Hoffman writes with a spare prose that is more expressive than books with more than twice the number of pages.
junipersun reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Using language expressing our ties to the natural world, what keeps us alive, Hoffman presents snapshots covering 200 years of life in a small town, which could be your town. I found I wished I had made notes of people's ages at various dates as the same characters show up time and again, first as relatives (cousins, great grandparents...) then as history then as part of local legend with the details becoming more vague as time passes. But keeping the facts straight isn't necessary for enjoying the tales.Given the references to the local museum, the looseness of Hoffman's natural history facts bothered me (e.g. calling yellow jackets "bees", pitcher plants & black-eyed susans growing in the same "field"), then I chose not to challenge them and accept this as an allegory. And the names used are not as important as our belonging to the world.I marked several passages to return to again & again, as well as the 3 poems written by a young man who felt himself too ugly to live with people:
...I had been a bear for so long I couldn't imagine anything human.
There was nothing I missed living in another world
Except this:
A woman cutting through the field to meet you
Grass in her hair, pollen on her fingers, your name in her mouth.
bookczuk reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I'm normally not a fan of short stories, but these interconnected stories of a small town in New Hampshire interested me. The mix of history, Alice Hoffman's characters, and a touch of magical realism brought it all to life for me. I particularly liked how town legend worked through time, sort of a game of telephone, where only a smidgeon of the original message gets through at the end. Still, I'd like to walk in Dead Husband's meadow (or even Band's meadow) someday.
limelite_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
I loved this strange and evocative book constructed in a series of short stories, telling the history of Blackwell, Massachusetts, which nestles at the foot of Hightop Mountain, over 300 years. Each chapter records characters and incidents that are intertwined by fate and action that give us a continuum of mysterious, magical, and vivid occurances (humans love bears and eels more than other humans, children drown, women kill husbands) and inhabitants (the Starrs, Partridges, Bradys, Kellys, and Jack Straw, the tavern owner).At the center of everything exists a particular garden where only red plants can grow and where “the truth can be found by those who dare to look.” Recurring and important are the black eels that live in the nearby river. The town’s founder is a strong and strange woman, unafraid of bears but frightened by the inaction of her fellow settlers who seemed to be ruled by death wishes rather than survival instincts. By the early 19th C. Blackwell experiences a year when there is no summer and the youngest daughter, Mary is drowned in the river, clad in her blue dress. The town suffers loss during the Civil War and a young girl in a blue dress appears on the Eel River. After WWI, when influenza claims Sara, her dog Topsy demonstrates what loyalty and the simple desire not to leave a loved ones side means when he spends his remaining years lying on the grave of his mistress. During the Depression, a young NYC WPA writer comes to Blackwell to collect folklore and falls in love with the fisherman’s wife, a mysterious woman who may just be a mermaid – or an eel. In WWII Hannah Partridge’s garden, its tomatoes that she makes gifts of, seem to bring the recipients good luck and their hearts’ desires.Hoffman has a rich imagination that she translates into delightful storytelling that sings with the fullness of ordinary life and of things beyond ordinary life.
bobnolin reviewed this
Rated 4/5
My first book by this author (tried Illumination Night and it turned me right off). Hoffman is a very talented writer. The stories in this collection flow effortlessly, though there could be a bit more description of setting, to help create a mental image for the reader. Men seem to take a back seat to women. For example, in the first story, it is a strong woman who saves the original town founders. Many of the characters seem to be adrift, floating through life, aimless, directionless. The men, especially, lack maturity and strength. One of them is even barely human. Obviously, I'm a man, and maybe I'm in the wrong aisle of the bookstore here. But I will try a few more books by Hoffman.
evystarkris reviewed this
Rated 2/5
The book reads like a collection of short stories. Connection because of family ties but that is about it. Characters are not the same throughout. Love Alice Hoffman's writing and it is great in this book, but it is not my favorite of her collection of wonderful books.
gypsysmom_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I listened to this book which is written as a series of short stories set in a fictional Massachusetts town. The stories tell how the town was settled and populated and how various people interacted with the surroundings. Central to most of the stories is the garden in which everything that is planted there turns red. There is a touch of magic/fantasy but mainly it is just a solid bit of writing. This is the first Alice Hoffman that I have read but I'll probably read something else by her now that I've discovered her.

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