Characters flow from one story into the next, which proceed in chronological order, children in a story appear as adults in a later one. The others were discouraged by the snow, the cold, the bears, and the lack of food. Thirty-six years later, in 1786, they changed the name to Blackwell, but every year they hold a Hallie Brady Day to celebrate the woman who, with help, saved her neighbors from starvation in the winter of 1750. I would absolutely read it again, and recommend to discerning bookfiend friends. The red dirt of the garden where the animal had been interred all those years becomes the shared blood and love and history of 250 years of the town. Perhaps because I find house histories so fascinating, or because I've spent a lot of time in historical houses which are no longer in private hands especially as a docent in a house museum. A friend and I are on an Alice Hoffman kick and he encouraged me to grab a copy of The Red Garden.
The Red Garden is such a book. The opening story, The Bear House, describes the arrival of the first settlers to the uninhabited wilderness and the set up of a first community, Bearsville in 1750 - named so after the many bears who roamed these woods for centuries before man ever set foot in them. 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. 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. The soil is alive, so are the people who have passed, and the people who have yet to come. The idea was intriguing - telling the story of the town through a couple of centuries through the eyes of different residents. The fragmented short histories is not a good medium to give much depth to the characters, whose plights and heroism - even though moving and well-written - tend to be more plot-driven than character-driven, as the focus on characters is perpetually shifted from one to another after each story.
The only criticism I would have would be some stories stopped short for me. Red Garden had a lot more potential than it delivered, ultimately, and I was a bit disappointed in it because I usually have a much stronger connection to Alice Hoffman's books. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around some of the connections in the stories, and spent too much time pondering, for example, who Kate was and where she appeared in previous stories. Honestly, there are only so many animal and child deaths I can read about in a book before I put it down. Second, Alice Hoffman is bound on showing the history and changes of Blackwell that she does take a few shortcuts with its people - women are invariably beautiful, feisty and heroic; people meet and fall in love at first sight once too often. Alice Hoffman is, instead, a restrained writer, a gentle and quiet writer, and one who leaves the stylistic pyrotechnics to others. Alice Hoffman always offers a good read and I found this one better than most.
The stories are too tenuously connected to be read as a novel-like series of linked stories. Hoffman takes us through about two centuries of the family, with stories of the family members. Hippies settle in, unsettling everyone else. Hoffman takes us through about two centuries of the family, with stories of the family members. Hoffman is in familiar, magical turf in this collection of charming and engaging, if not always happy stories.
He thought of the way the doves had flown up into the sky all in a ruse, startled by gunfire, and then all he could think was that despite everything that happened, he was alive. In general, I am not much into short stories, I didn't like by , by , by , by , or even by. And then ending just ends. It's not really a fantasy novel, as the only real element which can be even considered as such appears in the story of the fisherman and his wife - and even that is debatable. The elements of the setting are as much characters as are the people.
Over the course of many stories, these countries of the imagination take on a life of their own and will generate their own myths, histories and legends - living on even after their creators are no more, as Lovecraft's Chthulu Mythos does. She was brave, strong and amazing. He stood outside and watched her through the window as she read a novel. Alice Hoffman can turn a phrase and capture attention, and I doubt most readers would truly regret the moments they'd spent with The Red Garden - a book which would go well in in the warmth of a home during winter, with tea and biscuits and a comfortable chair. The sister of a character in one story may appear on the fringes of the next, but the significance is hard to find. The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion. Alice Hoffman is, instead, a restrained writer, a gentle and quiet writer, and one who leaves the stylistic pyrotechnics to others.
Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. I loved this book and was facinated by the way each chapter linked another character with on previous one. There was a heroine, Hallie Brady, who saved the settlers from starvation with help from a bear, and her life became folklore that was handed down through the generations. So for me, the mark of a good book is one that I pick up about half an hour before bedtime, and refuse to put down until my eyes are absolutely closing with fatigue. Hoffman's books have that same magical, comforting, feeling. The stories, particularly the earlier ones, have a folkloric quality to them with larger-than-life characters and incredible happenings, and a couple of notable historical figures make an appearance, which was a fun little addition. The residents are all related in one way or another and each short story ties the current resident back to pioneers of the town.
I'm new to Alice Hoffman and starting out with her lesser known books. The founder of the town, Hallie Brady, and her kin are saved from starvation and hypothermia by a family of three bears during their first harsh winter in 1750. My one complaint is that the tales are of an uneven quality even as the magical realism of Alice Hoffman shines through each. And in the telling of this town's history, the residents share dark secrets, there are acts of magical mysticism, tales of loyalty, and webs of intrigue. I find Allen's books to be so comforting, and perhaps that is why I think of them while reading these works. As with the history of any town, some stories are better than others I could have done without the tale of the woman turning into an eel, for example but overall, this was a very enjoyable read. I don't know how it compares to the rest of them, but I enjoyed it as my introduction to her work.
Since I love books with interconnecting stories, this book hit the spot with me. Of course, Blackwell has not always been called by that name - originally it was Bearsville, when it was founded in 1750. Sometimes it left you hanging to gleam from it what you will. Each chapter is a different time in the history and community of Blackwell, Massachusetts, from it's first settlers to a story about a son returning home for his father's funeral probably sometime in the 1990s. Each of them with their own hopes and plans and sorrows and adventures, and, of course, love. She wanted to be known, but no one knew her.