Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

Pages: 270
Genre: Adult, Magical Realism, Short Stories
Publisher: Crown
Bought online

The Red Garden presents us with the luminous and haunting world of Blackwell, Massachusetts as it captures the unexpected turns in history and in our own lives.

Beautifully crafted, shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is a transforming glimpse into small town America, presenting us with 300 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 time the town is founded by a brave, young woman from England who has no fear of blizzards or of 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 solider who is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman who meets a historical character who is fiercely human, 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 an extraordinary garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.
Hoffman once again enchants us as lives are linked, changed, and redeemed. Delightful and compelling, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.

Normally Short Stories aren't my thing. I could never write them, didn't understand them and didn't see the point of an idea that wasn't big enough to occupy a whole novel. When one of the authors I really likes decides to release another collection of short stories and gives it a cool name like "The red garden" I feel compromised. I decided to have a go with this book and was so thankful that I did because 'The Red Garden'  was well worth my time.

This book was unlike other short stories in the fact that it was full of adult fairy tales and legends. The book was full of fictional secrets, myths and histories of a small town, many of which even some of the characters were unsure of. There is something about small town books that feels so cosy and honest and this book was no exception. Those readers who live in a small town will find this book especially interesting/enjoyable.

Each story was linked by a character who was a relation whether they be a mother, grandmother etc... This made each story seem more significant. It was like there was this giant family legacy riding on their backs and they weren't even aware of it. It also really showed us as the reader, how much prejudice surrounds people because of their family history.

I think Hoffman did a really great job with her writing style throughout the collection. The stories started off in the past (I'm not actually sure about the date of the first story, but I'm guessing it was way before the 1800s) and ended in the present, Hoffman keeping up with the accuracies of the time period and the language of the time. The book started off with enchanting folk tale style stories and then slowly started bringing in more sayings and swear words toward the end, because that was a more modern thing. Eg. In the first story when man and woman... etc, she leaves it all to the imagination, but towards the end it was called "F--king".

I really dove into this book and thought that despite all my previous thoughts in regards to short stories that this work was really interesting and magical. I think this book would provide more entertainment than a novel, because there are so many different stories and ideas within. On top of that being surrounded by Hoffman's original characters made it even more special.

I give this book 5/5 stars and favourited it. I recommend this to any Alice Hoffman fans, lovers of magical realism and people who loved to hear ghost stories and town gossip as children. Definitely worth purchasing too, as "The Red Garden" can be pulled off the shelf from time to time and favourite tales can be reread.

'The Third Angel' by Alice Hoffman

'Blackbird House' by Alice Hoffman
'The Local Girls' by Alice Hoffman

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1 comment:

Ms. McKellips said...

Thanks for the great review! I have been hedging my decision to read this book and you've pushed me over to the "READ IT!" side. Thanks