Blue Diary
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Blue Diary

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  4,384 ratings  ·  409 reviews
"With her glorious prose and extraordinary eye, Alice Hoffman seems to know what it means to be human." (Susan Isaacs, Newsday)

The courage to face the unthinkable is at the core of this magnificent new novel. How do we manage to confront the truths in our lives and find forgiveness in the most unforgiving of circumstances? How do we love truly and deeply in a world that i...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published July 23rd 2001 by Putnam Adult
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I didn't finish this book. Ms Hoffman failed to make me care enough about the characters, with the possible exception of Kat, to want to continue past page 116. Yes, I gave it a few extra pages beyond my 100-page limit because I wanted to like this book. Alice Hoffman is an author highly recommended by many friends, and I thoroughly enjoyed another of her novels, "The Probable Future." This novel, though, irritated the fluff out of me with the 3rd-person omniscient POV written in the present ten...more
Can someone commit a terrible crime and then completely change themselves for the better? If that person has changed and now lives an exemplary life, are they still responsible for that crime even though they are no longer the same person? This is the question posed in Blue Diary. Ethan Ford is THE perfect husband and father or is he? The secret he has kept from his wife for 15 years comes back to haunt him and the whole town is drawn into the ensuing chaos. I thought the premise of the book was...more
I like Alice Hoffman, but this wasn't my favorite. And it wasn't really a great listen. I feel like this is a story that I could have told while gossiping at the train station getting my cup of coffee. "So, did you hear about the Fords? Well, apparently Ethan--and that's not even his real name--murdered and raped a girl 15 years ago in Maryland! And you'll never guess who turned them in. The next door neighbor's girl Kat, who is best friend's with the Ford's son! I know! So, now Ethan, or whatev...more
I didn’t hate it but I did skim most of it and couldn’t wait to finish and move on...but at least I finished it. The characters are too perfect or either too perfectly flawed. They are boring and unbelievable more than endearing and sympathetic. The author takes too much time making everything perfect...even the dang strawberries grown by Jorie are the best and sweetest in the world. Give me a break! The story is about Ethan Ford (the most perfect man on earth through the first 30 pages) who is...more
This was a good book, not the quality book that is life-altering or really touches your soul, but a good solid book nonetheless. The book centers around earth-shattering truths revealed to a woman about her husband. Its a bit unsettling to think about how quickly life can change. Equally as upsetting is how little you may know someone you think you know and love. Imagine you found out your husband had committed a horrible crime, only moments before you met and fell in love with him. Years later,...more
Nov 30, 2009 Lou rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Young Adults
Recommended to Lou by: Teacher
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wow! What a premise. Ethan Ford and his wife, Jorie, have the perfect life. Even after 13 years of marriage, they are blissfully as in love as the day they met in the bar on the outskirts of town. It was love at first sight, and has only grown over the years with the birth of their son and their idyllic life in a small town in Massachusetts. Ethan is a master craftsman, coaches his son’s Little League team and motivates all the town’s boys; he serves on the volunteer fire department and over the...more
This story reminds me of a true story I read in a magazine.
In the magazine article we see a man with a terrible problem. His daughter is sick and needs a kidney, her mother and other family members are not a match. The father is not her natural father as the girl is a child of rape. This father was the one who befriended the traumatized girl who had been raped by an unknown assailant, offered her friendship, comfort and love and eventually became her beloved husband and the devoted father of he...more
I was attracted to “The Blue Diary” when I was listening to a book talk at our school. Later, I took the book and read the introduction of it which I though the plot was quite exciting. Then the librarian came to me and told me that she liked reading the book written by the author, Alice Hoffman, because her writing is really good. So, I decided to give the book a try.
However, the book is totally not what I had expected, and not in good way. For me, it is a disappointment because it is far too...more
Alice Hoffman’s books can be kind of depressing, but you almost don’t mind because they’re so beautifully written. The first chapter describes the idyllic perfection of the life Ethan and Jorie Ford lead along with their son Collie. Everything is wonderful, Ethan is a perfect, gorgeous, hardworking man and Jorie is a perfect, gorgeous, lovely wife. Collie is perfect, gorgeous, and happy. They live in a small, Massachusetts town and everybody loves them. Then, everything falls apart. Ethan is acc...more
Apr 08, 2010 Susan rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by:
Unrealistic plot..Rapist/Murderer turns into Perfect Husband/Father/Fireman/ explanation as to why or how this occurred. Disjointed characters briefly interact as they come to terms with their disillusion. I kept waiting for someone to get to the heart of the know about Ethan and how/why he transformed himself, but instead got inner dialogue of his devastated wife, teen girl who turned in the murderer, but was still friends with his son, and whose 17 year old sister had been...more
Not the most inspiring book of the year, based on its topic, but definitely interesting. Raises the question, "Could you keep loving someone once their secret past is revealed?"

At points I was disturbed by this novel because of the territory the heroine traverses in her search through her husband's past, but at the same time riveted to the story to see what would happen next. That's good, right?

As always, Hoffman's lyrical prose leads you down a primrose path of words that can only be described...more
Kitty Meow
How capable are we of change? This is the question Alice Hoffman asks in her novel, Blue Diary. Ethan Ford, a seemingly handsome and harmless gentleman, is actually a criminal who has been on the run for the past thirteen years for the murder and rape of a young girl. The plot blooms as his history is revealed, shocking everyone from the local librarian to his own wife and son. You would expect forgiveness from this small town, as Ethan was once known as the hero of the place; the one person tha...more
How do you find forgiveness in the unforgivable? This is what Alice Hoffman tackles in the superb book "Blue Diary". Ethan Ford and his wife Jorie have everything since meeting one night 13 years ago at the local bar. A perfect house, garden, the towns respect and admiration and an entranced love that allows them to make love as each day is the first day they met, but how far does love go when you are asked to forgive to unthinkable? Josie and the town struggle with this when Ethen is arrested o...more
right now i'm really interested i the plot, but plodding through all the flora and and fauna to get to what actually happens is a bit much. about 1/4 of it would add to the story the rest should be dumped out. Interesting so far though.

Ok finished it today, and man, i like the way it was wrapped up. now i see why she had Kat and Jorie take turns with the perspective. I also have to say, please cut out the flowers and shrubs and pick some normal names.
Lots of heavy stuff in here, Murder obvious...more
Aria Chen
This was a good book. It is life-altering and it really touched my soul.
I have to say that the turn in this story truly surprised me after Ford's secret was revealed and he was arrested. I expected greater forgiveness from his family and neighbors because of his exemplary behavior before. However, forgiveness did not come easily in this gossipy town. As many other reviewers asked: "Can someone commit a terrible crime and then completely change themselves for the better?", people are not alway...more
Just finished this book after pushing through it ever so slowly. And there is one questions (well one of many) that is really confusing me!
How did Kat know?
I mean this happened years ago, and how did she know just because she didn't see his reflection (don't get me started on that!) in some mirror, that he committed a crime years ago?
If anyone had an answer, that would be great!

Apart from that it's a certainly interesting question that runs through the whole novel, but the characters were so 2...more
I enjoyed this novel and found Hoffman's prose style very readable, with lyrical descriptions of scenery. Unfortunately publishers always seem to compare her with Anne Tyler on book jackets, so I find myself making the same comparison and I don't think she is as good - but then again, who is?! The plot centres on Jorie, a woman leading an apparently perfect life after falling in love at first sight with Ethan, a stranger in her small town. Since their marriage he has become a pillar of the commu...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice Hoffman loses her mind in this one. I really think she just took pretty words, put them in a jar, shook it up, and pulled out a handful everytime she needed to describe something.

It starts with the first sentence and goes downhill from there.

T'S THE LAST MONDAY OF THE month, a brutally gorgeous morning brimming with blue air and the sweet scent of honeysuckle, which grows wild in the woods beyond Front Street, when Ethan Ford fails to show up for work.

If the purple prose overkill wasn't en...more
This book was a disappoint to me. The author wrote from a different perspective than I was used to. She has a wonderful skill in describing everything in perfect detail except the plot. For example she tries to reveal the feelings of an entire town which becomes a burden to the reader to keep up with a plethora of characters. You never really figure out the main characters. Could you forgive and overlook a heinous crime committed by someone you love? Good question but the story fell short. I stu...more
Wish I wouldn't have wasted my time. This book is wrong on so many levels...a man does not go from doing evil to becoming Mr. Wonderful Citizen overnight. A woman who truly loves her husband does not abandon him. The child Kat is far too dark for a child of that age, swinging wildly between loving her friend yet having no qualms about ruining his life and manipulating her sister who is older and wiser than her. This story is so far fetched that it irritated me more than it entertained me. The au...more
Kathy Hiester
I have read and loved many of Alice Hoffman’s books but Blue Diary is a definite exception. The writing is definitely well done and the concept is soundly thought out but I think that I have a problem with the fact that a person who is a rapist can just turn their life completely around and become the hero of the story. This is the first time I have really done this usually I like or dislike a book. I don’t have to like the content to determine a book is well written so it gets 4 stars.

4 Stars
As usual, the writing was perfect, elegant, thoughtful, provocative.

Unfortunately, the story was depressing. And Hoffman's usual silver lining left me feeling bereft.

Still love her, and will continue to excavate as many of her titles from used bookstores as humanly possible.

P.S. - The characters are still haunting me weeks later. This was NOT a bad book. In fact, if you like the drudgery that is Picoult? You will devour it!
This is a book that has me torn, I almost gave up on it after a few chapters as the writing style was just so different for me, Hoffman writes so descriptively it's almost enchanting, yet 3 sentences on how beautiful a flower looks is just not for me, yet I decided to push on and I'm glad I did as the story drew me in, almost against my will. The story seemed so real, Jorie not some perfect heroine, but a woman torn about forgiving her husband for the terrible thing he did. The relationships are...more
Frances Levy
I like the premise of the book - do we really know the people we love? Is redemption possible? - but I wish Alice Hoffman would stop already with the plants and animals. Take out all those needless passages and the book would be one-third shorter. A lot of her metaphors also were pointless and sometimes annoying: Jorie suffers "skin bumps of grief"? Oh, please!

Maybe it's just me, but I wish Hoffman had given her main characters more realistic names. A boy named "Collie"? What's that about? And a...more
This is the story of Ethan Ford, his wife Jorie and their son Collie and how Ethan's past changes all their lives, along with the lives of everyone in the town. Ethan commited a murder 15 years earlier in Maryland but never told his wife or anyone else he had come to know. He is a pillar of the community and no one believes it to be possible. When he admits to his guilt the whole town rallies around him, a changed man.

Overall I liked the story but I had a hard time connecting with the main char...more
I had never heard of this book before, and the copy I picked up at a used book store was an uncorrected proof (still so full of typos it was hard to resist getting out a red pen) with a plain cover and only one line of description. I decided to give it a go, based on the title, a quick flip through the pages and the fact that I've liked a few books by Alice Hoffman before.
I guess it would be best to say its not my favorite by this author. The original premise is interesting, about whether someo...more
Lisabet Sarai
What if you woke up one day to discover that everything you'd believed in was a lie? That's what happens to Jorie Ford in Alice Hoffman's gorgeous but emotionally harrowing novel BLUE DIARY.

In Monroe, Massachusetts, a bucolic small town surrounded by orchards, everyone knows Ethan Ford. He's the master carpenter responsible for local renovation jobs, the supportive Little League coach, the heroic volunteer fireman who has saved more than one life over the course of his thirteen years in Monroe....more
I had difficulty with this book in that I figured it was going to be about the "power of redemption", etc. and about "unconditional love" between "Ethan" and Jorie. It was a pleasant surprise how the plot developed and turned out. "Ethan" took it upon himself (drunk & arrogant)to climb into the bedroom window of a young woman (15 years old) and clearly RAPE her. He had met her earlier in the day and they had "gone for a swim." In the process of this, she hits her head and dies. This is a CAP...more
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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
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“Some things you carry around inside you as though they were part of your blood and bones, and when that happens, there’s nothing you can do to forget

…But I had never been much of a believer. If anything, I believed that things got worse before they got better. I believed good people suffered... people who have faith were so lucky; you didn’t want to ruin it for them. You didn’t want to plant doubt where there was none. You had to treat suck individuals tenderly and hope that some of whatever they were feeling rubs off on you

Those who love you will love you forever, without questions or boundaries or the constraints of time. Daily life is real, unchanging as a well-built house. But houses burn; they catch fire in the middle of the night.

The night is like any other night of disaster, with every fact filtered through a veil of disbelief. The rational world has spun so completely out of its orbit, there is no way to chart or expect what might happen next

At that point, they were both convinced that love was a figment of other people’s imaginations, an illusion fashioned out of smoke and air that really didn’t exist

Fear, like heat, rises; it drifts up to the ceiling and when it falls down it pours out in a hot and horrible rain

True love, after all, could bind a man where he didn’t belong. It could wrap him in cords that were all but impossible to break

Fear is contagious. It doubles within minutes; it grows in places where there’s never been any doubt before

The past stays with a man, sticking to his heels like glue, invisible and heartbreaking and unavoidable, threaded to the future, just as surely as day is sewn to night

He looked at girls and saw only sweet little fuckboxes, there for him to use, no hearts involved, no souls, and, most assuredly no responsibilities.

Welcome to the real world. Herein is the place where no one can tell you whether or not you’ve done the right thing.

I could tell people anything I wanted to, and whatever I told them, that would be the truth as far as they were concerned. Whoever I said I was, well then, that’s who id be

The truths by which she has lived her life have evaporated, leaving her empty of everything except the faint blue static of her own skepticism. She has never been a person to question herself; now she questions everything

Something’s, are true no matter how hard you might try to bloc them out, and a lie is always a lie, no matter how prettily told

You were nothing more than a speck of dust, good-looking dust, but dust all the same

Some people needed saving

She doesn’t want to waste precious time with something as prosaic as sleep. Every second is a second that belongs to her; one she understands could well be her last

Why wait for anything when the world is so cockeyed and dangerous? Why sit and stare into the mirror, too fearful of what may come to pass to make a move?

At last she knows how it feels to take a chance when everything in the world is at stake, breathless and heedless and desperate for more

She’ll be imagining everything that’s out in front of them, road and cloud and sky, all the elements of a future, the sort you have to put together by hand, slowly and carefully until the world is yours once more”
“even the most dependable of men will stumble every now and then

There are some people who insist that every time one door closes, another door opens, but this isn't always the case. There are doors that are meant to stay closed, ones that lead to rooms filled with serpents, rooms of regret, rooms that will lbind you if you dare to raise your eye to the keyhole in all innocence, simply to see what's inside

Silence doesn't frighten us. We can just look at each other and recognize that there is pain in this world, even on beautiful nights when twilight settles in our backyards , sifting through the grass and the hedges

you can't change what's means to be

I had found if you didn't expect much, you weren't disappointed as much

I'd simply have to live with the doubt hanging over me

You could tell she didn't want to, she was trying with all her might to hold it back, but sometimes it's impossible to do that. I know from personal experience. You have to turn yourself cold as ice in order to stop yourself, and then if anything falls from your eyes it will only be blue ice crystals, hard and unbreakable as stone

people who have faith were ao lucky, you didn't want to ruin anything for them. you didn't want to plant doubt where there was none. you had to treat such individuals tenderly and hope that some of whatever they were feeling rubs off on you

everything is stupid when you really think about it. people get up everyday and they act like whatever they do is so important , but they're all just going to die in the end, so none of it matters.”
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