Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: The Red Garden

This linked series of short stories follows the residents of the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts from its eighteenth-century founding to the present day. Nestled in the Berkshires, the town has a legendary founding involving an intrepid pioneer woman, a bear, a girl who drowns in the river, and a red-soiled garden that causes all plants to grow with a scarlet tinge. Throughout the years the garden nurtures the lonely and the sensitive, and is ever so slightly magical.

In tone and form this books is quite similar to Hoffman's earlier Blackbird House. Both books follow the life of a town through the centuries, but The Red Garden is far less depressing, and many of the stories are far more hopeful. I found that this was a book best read in increments, not in a few sittings. Each story really needs its own space to digest.

Alice Hoffman, The Red Garden (Crown, 2011) ISBN: 0307393879

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