Published by Crown Publishing Group on March 4, 2011
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Historical Fiction
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In 1750, the small town of Bearsville, MA was founded. Settled deep in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, a small group of people who left the big city for a better life settled down and made it their home. They had a tenuous beginning, fraught with bitter winters and nearly starving to death, but one woman named Hallie Brady saved them all from an untimely death. So begins the story of The Red Garden, which is a sweeping novel of the small community as it evolves over the next 150 years, weaving together the lives of each subsequent generation of the town and the innermost desires of some of its most lovable (and some unlovable) characters.
What I loved about this book is the central role the town plays in the story, which reminds me of The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna and Black River by S.M. Hulse. Although each character is delicately woven into the story, the book is primarily about the evolution of a town, rather than the people in it. The reader gets to walk hand-in-hand with the author as the decades float by, learning its history and stumbling upon events that later become part of the town’s tradition and superstition.The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman deserves to be read while unwinding with a glass of red wine. Click To Tweet
Along the way, we meet a multitude of characters who are both flawed and beautiful, from the veteran who returns home only to feel himself to be among strangers to a young girl who finds salvation in the unexpected. Each character is linked to the character in the previous chapter, giving the book both continuity and a bit of the unexpected, for the links are not linear. Unlike a lot of historical fiction,The Red Garden does not start off with a present day memory in which the story provides closure, although it would have been easy for Hoffman to do so. Instead, the reader experiences moments and lives as they happen, getting a glimpse into the hidden desires and family secrets that lend themselves to the rich history of the town.
Recommended for: Readers who want to unwind with a cozy book while draping an arm over the couch with a glass of wine by their side.