Second Nature
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Second Nature

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,470 ratings  ·  158 reviews
A "New York Times" bestseller, Second Nature tells the story of a suburban woman, Robin Moore, who discovers her own free spirit through a stranger she brings home to her perfectly ordered neighborhood. As Robin impulsively draws this beautiful, uncivilized man into her world-meanwhile coping with divorce and a troubled teenage son-she begins to question her wisdom and dou...more
Paperback, 290 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Berkley (first published 1994)
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The more Alice Hoffman books I read, the more I admire her. I neglected giving her a try for the longest time because she's more "mainstream" i.e. popular, and I consider myself someone who likes authors most people don't. But her books really speak for themselves and are amazing. This one was no exception. She draws you into a story no matter what it's about, and her actual writing ability is hypnotic. Several sections she wrote in _Second Nature_ about love and how it feels seem to go right to...more
missy lambert
Feb 27, 2008 missy lambert rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to missy by: Kyoko Mori
Shelves: fiction
The whole time I was reading this book, I had mixed feelings about it. I loved the story itself, the magical, mythological quality of it. And there was plenty of beautiful language and powerful imagery to hold me to the story, including a few memorable passages about love. But there was something about Hoffman's writing style in this book --perhaps the way she scrunches scenes together without ever really writing in scene-- that I found disjointing and distracting. Often her backstory felt force...more
Aug 20, 2007 Cherie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alice Hoffman fans, if you liked "The Deepest End of the Ocean"
A An absolutely delicious (yet sad) love story. After a plane crashes and everyone dies by 3.5 yo Stephen, he is raised by wolves. After his leg is caught in a trap, he is sent to a hospital and about to be committed when Robin encounters him and spontaneously takes him home b/c she knows he isn't crazy. It's an amazing book with layers of love story, passion, intensity, and sadness. I loved it and want to read it again already.
A young man living among wolves is trapped and hospitalized. Traumatized and terrified he does not speak and because of his extremely disheveled look and his instinctual behavior, he is dubbed The Wolf Man. On the day of his transfer to a mental institution,recently divorced Robin on impulse, manages to spirit him away to her home.
So begins a twisted tale of love and redemption, and what is possible when traditional beliefs and habits, or second nature,can be suspended.The beauty of Alice Hoff...more
Beguiled by her seductive prose and her imaginative virtuosity, readers have always been willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy the touches of magic in Hoffman's novels ( Illumination Night ; Turtle Moon , etc). Here, credibility is stretched not by magical intervention but by the implausibility of a major character. When a feral young man is discovered living with wolves in a remote area of upper Michigan, he cannot speak and can barely remember his early life. Transferred to a hospital in Manh...more
An absorbing page turner!

A "wolf man" is caught by trappers and taken to a psychiatric hospital. He is examined, prodded and questioned. Orders are written to send him to another psychiatric facility to be locked up the rest of his life. The doctor's wife, Robin, daringly smuggles the "wolf man" out of the hospital and takes him home with her. What follows changes the community and Robin's life. Wonderful story.

From the back cover:

"He was beautiful. He was innocent. And in the locked room where...more
Robin Moore rescues a wild, nonspeaking young man--called the Wolf Man because he was found, injured, in a wolf trap--from impending transfer to a mental hospital. In the process of teaching Stephen how to live in "civilized" suburban society, she falls in love with him. Meanwhile, neightborhood animals are found with their throats slit, and a teenage girl is murdered; the Wolf Man is naturally a suspect. Hoffman writes with surehanded grace and detail about Stephen's many years living with a pa...more
Yet another Alice Hoffman book I started and couldn't finish. I did find one quote I liked though.

"This happened with roses: it was possible to take them for granted all summer as they wound along fences and gates, and then in September, when they faded, how beautiful they'd once been suddenly took hold. That was when people began to yearn for them, and all winter long they'd watch the bare branches for buds, vowing that this time they'd be grateful for all that they had."
I have been meaning to read another Alice Hoffman book since "Here on Earth" and have finally gotten around to it! And I loved this book! Something about her writing and characters just draws you in. Most of all, I enjoy reading unique stories, something above the ordinary, and this was sure it. Very interesting story.
A wonderful synthesis of Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan! Sexy, scary, fun.
I struggled through the beginning -- the boring introduction of a feral man to modern society, the tedious entrance of the stubborn heroine who rescues the Wolfman from a psychiatric ward, the over-explained background histories for both of them -- until I got to page 55 and this line:

"He'd already realized he could not begin to understand the things men did; now he saw women were even harder to figure out. Sometimes it almost seemed as if they were thinking one thing and talking about something...more
This is a great story about a man who was raised by wolves. Somehow Hoffman makes this worn out idea it into a story that is original and one that anyone can enjoy.
Nov 13, 2010 Rebecca is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
I've read this book so many times that I can't believe I'm reading it again -- but, I am. I love Alice Hoffman's quirky blend of magic realism and pragmatism.
Rating: 3.5 stars

Alice Hoffman is one of the Society of Authors I'm Obsessed With, and for good reason. Her books are dependably 3 stars or better in my ratings, and I adore her writing style. She also writes mostly Magical Realism, a genre in which the fantastic and the realistic collide to create fresh takes on our world, often to make deeper meaning. Of course, being a story-centric reader, I usually don't catch the nuances of such things, but I try. And with Alice Hoffman's books, even if yo...more
Kathleen Valentine
The charm of Alice Hoffman's writing is the almost fairy tale like quality of her narrative. She paints beautiful and mysterious landscapes and populates them with flawed, restless, moody people struggling to figure out what the heck they are doing with their lives. Sort of like real-life. What makes these stories so mesmerizing is that she so often creates a situation that makes you say, "come on, that's so unrealistic." But you sort of hope it isn't.

In Second Nature there is a woman, Robin, wh...more
Tina Hayes
"Second Nature" by Alice Hoffman has Robin Moore risking it all when she decides to sneak a mental patient out of lockup and into her home. The Wolfman, as some call Stephen, isn't crazy, though being raised by wolves could make him appear that way. Those around him are left to decide whether he's a danger to others, or loyal beyond words.

Stephen's character is shown in depth, and in a very believable way. His thought processes and actions are spot on for what I imagine a person in his situation...more
This book was okay at best. The summary on the book jacket is really misleading; I expected a love story, akin to a modern version of Beauty and the Beast, in which Robin sees past the Wolfman's intimidating exterior to the humanity inside and is able to connect with him in a way his doctors couldn't. Thus, the novel would focus on their relationship and her ability to rehabilitate him when every doctor had failed. In the end, of course, he would have to choose between falling in love with a wom...more
P. Kirby
As I write this, I'm in a reading slump. Again. The other books in my "currently reading" list are boring the ever-loving crap out of me.

Recently, our village library had their annual book sale and I picked this up in hardback for two bucks. Why? Because, even at her worst, Alice Hoffman is eminently readable.

This isn't her worst. Neither is it her best. But it is a lovely story. And I powered through it in just a few days.

Robin is a soon-to-be divorced mom and a small business owner. Her marria...more
Now that I've read a few of Alice Hoffman's novels, I am growing a bit wary of the template: melodramatic language with supernatural undertones; troubled characters who come together with spectacular co-dependence, then part with disastrous consequences; and, of course, the freak of nature type character. Don't get me wrong - Hoffman's ability to weave the reader into the environment with her nearly-tangible descriptors and details makes reading her novels an incredible experience. But these are...more
This disappointed. I was encouraged by the beginning but the middle and end fell well-short of the start's promise. What I expected was a unique turn on an age-old question - are people primarily a reflection of their nurture or can our fundamental nature survive even the most bizarre detours of life(think: small child, raised by wolves & this is where Hoffman lost me). What I got was a standard love story with a few, somewhat predictable, twists and a whole lot of hokey. I'm no stranger to...more
A young boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash in Northern Michigan. He is adopted and raised by a pack of wolves. When he is a young man, he is caught in a bear trap by hunters (who didn't know of him, and who were looking for other game), and taken to a psychiatric hospital in the New York area. He won't speak, and is scheduled to be transfered to an institution upstate, where, as everybody knows, he will never leave. The sister of one of the staff encounters him as he waits in the hallway...more
Carolyn F.
Stephen has been raised by wolves after his parent's airplane crashed when he was 3. As an adult he is caught in a trap in the Michigan forests. For some reason he is sent to a psychiatric facility on an island close to Long Island. When he is about to be sent to another facility for life, he finally speaks to Robin and asks her to help him. She can't resist and takes him home, teaching him to read and slowly falling in love with him. The only problem is her ex-husband who she had left before me...more
I could not get past the ridiculous premise to completely enjoy the characters in the story. A wolf/man who has lived with a wolf pack from the age of 3 1/2 with no human interaction, can read, write, hold conversations with strangers, and begin an affair all within the span of a few months? There were many other storylines—Robin’s divorce, Connor’s first love, an aging parent’s declining health, and a brother’s nervous breakdown–that were all interesting and engaging, yet the wolf man was alway...more
As much as I enjoy the plots or Alice Hoffman's stories, the way she chooses to portray romantic relationships drives me crazy. She is perfectly capable of creating complex relationship between family members but the minute there is a romantic interest it becomes so distracting. They seem very one-dimensional, a "I have to have this person or I'll die" feeling. Now I totally believe love at first sight can happen but they way she portrays the romance in her books is just too unbelievable for me....more
Ntchana Batŏma
I stayed up until 3am finishing this book. I was drawn in from the beginning, due to the enthralling plot itself. Here on Earth was my first novel from this author, and I have to say Second Nature wasn't as good as Here on Earth, but it definitely was a fantastic read. The story line itself was extremely thought-provoking and seeing mankind from Stephen's eyes was so puzzling, thought-provoking and understandable at the same time. It sounds so cliche, but this book definitely changed the angle o...more
Michael Oehley
Beautifully written and haunting in tone, this is an easy and thought-provoking read about the nature of humanity. Ironically the 'Wolfman' character is the most human among the humans. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I always say I like books and movies about things that are real (notwithstanding my Twilight obsession). However, there is something I just like about Alice Hoffman's books and I always find myself thinking about them days later. I think I finally figured it out...It is because they always have a sense of sadness and they don't end how I want them to.

So ridiculous as it may seem here is the plot: A 3.5 yo boy was the lone survivor in a plane crash and was raised by wolves. He is found as an adu...more
Patty Corwin
This is one of Alice Hoffman's earlier works. The story of a man who has lived in the wild with wolves most of his life is compelling, especially as he tries to adapt to the life of an ordinary man. Robin, the gardener who rescues him and subsequently loves him, makes hard choices as she finds herself falling in love with him. A series of grizzly murders, animal and human, a life crisis involving Stuart,Robin's psychiatrist brother, and the subplots dealing with Ray (Robin's ex-husband) and her...more
Good story. I can relate to leaving the "civilized" man's lifestyle and heading back into the ordered universe of the forest.
I gave this two stars instead of one because I like Alice Hoffmans writing but this story was ridiculous. I know Hoffmans stories are a bit out their as far as being realistic goes but at least her other stories and characters are interesting.
For some reason this struck me as a bad sunday afternoon wherewolf movie when I was 11 years old.
I could not even finish this book and felt stupid every time I picked it up and gave it another chance.
I've read Turtle Moon, Red Garden, River King and this...more
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Second Nature 2 15 Jan 26, 2012 08:57PM  
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
The Dovekeepers Here on Earth Practical Magic The Ice Queen The Red Garden

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