Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (Throwback Thursday Review)

Some of you may know that I originally had my own blog, Beauty but a Funny Girl, prior to joining Bookish (now Bookish Lifestyle). I was thinking the other day about all those reviews I left behind when I transferred and thought they should get some love too - no matter how badly written and newbie they come off! So I present to you: Throwback Thursday Reviews! Every once in a while I'll post an old review from Beauty but a Funny Girl, unedited in terms of content, with the exception of any spelling or grammatical mistakes. It's definitely going to be fun and interesting to see how my tastes and writing style have changed over the years!

Adult, Contemporary, Magic, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication.Date:March 4, 2011
Pages:270 (hardcover)
Published By:  Crown Publishing Group
Website:Alice Hoffman 

The Red Garden on Goodreads
My review copy:
Local Library

Where to get: 

"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.


Originally posted April 6, 2012 on Beauty but a Funny Girl

The Red Garden takes us from 1750 - the founding of Bearsville/Blackwell - to sometime today. Each chapter is a short story about one of the characters in the town. I love how the stories all connected to one another through one person or another. Even if the stories were only a few pages long, I found myself engaged in their lives and tracing back their lineage through the last few generations, but maybe that's just the history nerd in me. It was also fun for me to figure out how everybody connected, children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren (you get the idea) of characters from previous chapters.

I did find the first stories more engaging that the later ones - sometimes around the 1950s, I believe - though I was quite fond of the last story. Something I also really liked was that in the later years, there were town "legends" of events that we witnessed/read in pervious chapters.

Hoffman did a beautiful job of writing these vignettes of a town through many generations. Some stories were heartwarming, others were heart wrenching, but we can't always have that a happy ending for everybody. Overall, I was very pleased with book and would recommend it.

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