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The red garden
Alice Hoffman
Adult Fiction HOFFMAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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.

From Library Journal:

This collection of interrelated stories from the talented Hoffman (The Story Sisters) chronicles the 300-year history of Blackwell, MA, a mythical town tucked deep in the Berkshire Mountains. Bears, eels, and vigilant collies are among Blackwell's denizens, as well as a cast of characters both richly diverse and closely connected. From town founder Hallie Brady, a fearless woods-woman with an affinity for the ursine, to James Mott, the modern-day EMT who seems destined to tempt fate, these characters are singular and vivid: a beautiful baker who specializes in deadly sin cakes, a man so monstrously ugly he can't look at himself, a fisherman's wife with hair so long she can step on it, who has a strange connection to the eels that are the town's main natural resource. Linking them all is an extraordinary garden, where the greenest plant grows red and the answers to life's mysteries can be found. VERDICT Hoffman has done it again, crafting a poignant, compelling collection of fairy tales suffused with pathos and brightened by flashes of magic. Her fans, as well as those of magical realism in general, will be enchanted. [Ten- to 12-city tour. See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/10.]-Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Hallie Brady
One of the first settlers of Blackwell; immediately connected to the wilderness and kept the small town alive during the harsh winter.

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