In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting more than 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.
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.
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.
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This is a fantastic book that weaves a wonderful narrative of a town and family throughout several generations.
I tend to either love or dislike Alice Hoffman books and this one I loved! I think she does a magnificent job in weaving in different stories and timelines so that you can see how characters and cities and times have evolved. This book reminds me of how The Blackbird House is written and I loved that one as well. The characters were believable in all their strengths and weaknesses, hate and kindness. I definitely recommend the book if you like historical pieces.