Friday, February 25, 2011

The Red Garden; Alice Hoffman



Title: The Red Garden
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publication Year: 2011
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library
Date Completed: 2/21/2011
Setting: fictional New England
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend: Yes

The Red Garden is delightful collection of (14) interrelated stories, each story builds to set the stage for stories that follow. Set in the fictional, New England town of Blackwell, MA, the town, founded in 1750, by settlers William and Hallie Brady. It was formerly called "Bearsville", but was renamed in 1786 to encourage newcomers to the area. Located somewhere in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts,  the "red garden", is the place where only red plants can grow, and where passions run high. It is the place where those who seek the truth can find the answer.

Each of the stories progress chronologically, and involve such events as the Civil War, World War, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars, as well as the Great Depression. Other more commonplace themes such as marriage, life struggles, loss, and even ghosts can be found in this collection.  My favorite story was The Principals of Devotion, where a loyal dog protects the grave of his former owner.

The characters were believable, most of the stories were enjoyable and the stories were a mixture of heartwarming and tragic. Some of the stories seemed a bit short, and, in my opinion, either should have been eliminated or expanded upon. Readers who enjoy a book where magical realism has the ability to sweep you away, should enjoy this book.

23 comments:

  1. I love magical realism but have never come across a short story collection that utilizes this technique. It sounds like this would be a really interesting book for me and I am going to have to add it to my list. Thanks for the excellent review!

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  2. I reading this right now and really enjoying it. I just finished The Principals of Devotion yesterday and loved it.

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  3. I am glad to see a positive review of The Red Garden. I am really looking forward to reading the book.I love magical realism! Thanks for the review.

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  4. I have only just picked up Hoffman's book The Story Sisters. I am always a book behind.

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  5. Thanks for a review on a collection of short stories which are different. I like the one already about the dog!

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  6. I have this one on my stacks...I love Hoffman books, but haven't read any short story collections by this author. In fact, I don't know if she has published any other collections.

    I'm looking forward to this!

    Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I haven't heard of this one but your review makes it sound interesting!

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  8. I don't think I've read a Hoffman yet. I love the cover of this one but I shy away from the short story aspect. I tend to not be able to lose myself in a collection of stories.

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  9. I'm a fan of Hoffman's work, so I feel sure I'd enjoy this one too.

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  10. Strangely enough, I've never really enjoyed any of Hoffman's novels that I've read (or tried to read - I never finished The Ice Queen), I have quite liked the two collections of short stories of hers that I've read. I say 'strangely' since I don't typically like short stories at all, ha!

    Thanks for the heads up on this one, I'll have to keep an eye out for it at the library.

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  11. I do enjoy magical realism, but hadn't heard of this book yet. I'll definitely be keeping it in mind.

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  12. I've liked the Hoffman books that I've read so I'm adding this to my list. Thanks, Diane!

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  13. I haven't read anything by Hoffman in a while but I have always enjoyed her so maybe I will have to check this one out soon.

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  14. I have added this one to my list -- thanks, Diane!

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  15. I've only read one book by Hoffman but I really want to read more. And I'm also trying to give short stories a try so this sounds like something I should pick up. Great review!

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  16. I really like Hoffman but have not heard of this title. This may get me out of my reading slump. I have found short stories to be a big help when I just cannot finish a book.

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  17. I need to start reading Hoffman. This one sounds good!

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  18. I've read a few of her books and enjoyed them..especially the magic part. This may be a good one for me.

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  19. I just picked this up the other day and am really looking forward to reading it! I'm glad you enjoyed it, because now I'm sure I would. I was curious to see how well the stories interconnected, and see that it did work.

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  20. I really like Hoffman and am looking forward to reading this one too!

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  21. I am impatiently waiting for this one at the library. I didn't realize each story progressed chronologically; that intrigues me even more. I'm really looking forward to this one!

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  22. Sounds fascinating! I added it to the list. Thank you!

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  23. I like Hoffman but don't usually care for the short story style of novel, so I may wait to read this one after I've read all her others!

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