The red garden

Alice Hoffman

Book - 2011

In 14 freestanding but consecutive stories, Hoffman traces the multi-generational story of wintry Blackwell town through the experiences of such characters as a wounded Civil War solider who is saved by a passionate neighbor and a woman who meets a fiercely human historical figure.

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FICTION/Hoffman, Alice
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1st Floor FICTION/Hoffman, Alice Checked In
New York : Crown Pub c2011.
Main Author
Alice Hoffman (-)
1st ed
Item Description
Linked fiction.
Physical Description
270 p. ; 24 cm
  • The Bear's house
  • Eight nights of love
  • The year there was no summer
  • Owl and mouse
  • The river at home
  • The truth about my mother
  • The principles of devotion
  • The fisherman's wife
  • Kiss and tell
  • The monster of Blackwell
  • Sin
  • Black rabbit
  • The red garden
  • King of the bees.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The lush and haunted wildlands of Massachusetts provide fertile ground for Hoffman's endlessly flowering imagination. Like The Probable Future (2003) and Blackbird House (2004), The Red Garden, a sequence of beguiling, linked stories, is rooted in colonial times and reaches into the present. The first foolhardy white folks the Motts, Partridges, Starrs, and Bradys to settle in this land of blackflies, bears, eels, and harsh winters in 1750 only survive because Hallie Brady, the first of a line of determined and adept women in what becomes the small town of Blackwell in Berkshire County, goes out into the snowy wilderness to find sustenance. As spring allows the founding families to cultivate the strange red soil in the village's first garden, Johnny Appleseed stays for a spell, and, later, Emily Dickinson happens by. Generation by generation, humans and animals form profound bonds; women's lives change, somewhat; men go to war; people are poor and in despair; illness and violence rage; strangers find refuge; and love blossoms impossibly, extravagantly, inevitably. 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.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Hoffman brings us 200 years in the history of Blackwell, a small town in rural Massachusetts, in her insightful latest. The story opens with the arrival of the first settlers, among them a pragmatic English woman, Hallie, and her profligate, braggart husband, William. Hallie makes an immediate and intense connection to the wilderness, and the tragic severing of that connection results in the creation of the red garden, a small, sorrowful plot of land that takes on an air of the sacred. The novel moves forward in linked stories, each building on (but not following from) the previous and focusing on a wide range of characters, including placid bears, a band of nomadic horse traders, a woman who finds a new beginning in Blackwell, and the ghost of a young girl drowned in the river who stays in the town's consciousness long after her name has been forgotten. 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. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

The Crown hc of this short story collection received a starred review, LJ 10/1/10; Nancy Travis reads. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In 14 freestanding but consecutive stories, Hoffman (The Story Sisters, 2009, etc.) traces the life of the town of Blackwell, Mass., from its founding in 1750 up to the present as the founders' descendents connect to the land and each other.Hallie Brady, who saves her fellow settlers from starvation by catching eels in the river, has a special, perhaps mystical affinity for the local bears. After her daughter's husband Harry Partridge mistakenly kills her most beloved bear in her back garden, she disappears and Harry buries the bear. In 1792, Johnny (Appleseed) Chapman, the first of many outsiders who drift through, plants a Tree of Life in the center of town. In 1816, another outsider helps find the drowned body of six-year-old Amy Starr before eloping with her older sister. Amy's "ghost" will appear to future generations. In the Civil War, an injured Partridge finds a reason to live when he falls in love with the war widow of Amy's nephew. In 1903, Isaac Partridge marries a woman who has reinvented herself, not unlike Hallie Brady. In 1935, a writer from Brooklyn comes to town as part of the WPA and falls in love with a fisherman's wife who may or may not be an enchanted eel. In 1945, the townspeople believe that the tomatoes that Hannah Partridge, Isaac's daughter, plants in her garden have the power to make wishes come true; in fact Hannah's own wish to raise a child without marriage is realized when her sister comes back from World War II with a baby girl named Kate. In 1956, Kate falls in love with a man whose loneliness has turned him into a kind of bear. Discovering bones in her garden in 1986, Kate's daughter Louise thinks they belong to a dinosaur until the man who loves her proves they came from a bear. Together the lovers re-bury the bones.Fans of Hoffman's brand of mystical whimsy will find this paean to New England one of her most satisfying.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.