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Blackbird House

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  6,632 ratings  ·  632 reviews
Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller The Probable Future, with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place tha
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Paperback, 238 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Favorite Magical Realism Novels
35th out of 701 books — 3,493 voters
Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanHere on Earth by Alice HoffmanThe Dovekeepers by Alice HoffmanThe Probable Future by Alice HoffmanThe Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
Best Alice Hoffman Novel
6th out of 35 books — 256 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
Places have much greater permanence than people. Land exists for eons (now don’t get picky about ocean fronts migrating and the Big Island expanding. You know what I mean) whereas people last mere generations, and often much less. On the surface at least, Blackbird House is a novel of place, in which the Blackbird House of the title is the stage, and each short story offers characters who play across it. There should be a name (and probably is, but I just do not know it, novel-in-stories or link ...more
Mark
Apr 21, 2013 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Will Byrnes
Shelves: short-stories
Once again the curse of GR website swallowed a review. So screamingly annoying that the laptop almost was thrown across the room. However I am determined that Alice Hoffman will receive the praise she is due for this lovely book so I shall do the whole bloody thing again. Goodreads, I truly hate you sometimes!!

This collection, to use a somewhat contrived metaphor, is like a number of small coloured stones or polished glass strung together to create a simple but very effective thing of beauty. By
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Amanda
Dec 12, 2007 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hoffman fans/literary lovers
The title for this book, according to Good Reads, indicates that this is a novel, and in a way it is. But it's more of a series of short stories, all centered around a house haunted by a white blackbird, the pet of a young boy lost at sea with his father.

With each story, Hoffman paints a picture of a new generation living in the house. Each story is different and special in its own way. There's tragedy, love, hope...all things found in abundance in all of Hoffman's novels, threaded through seve
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Dani Peloquin
I have to be honest, I read this book months ago but was unable at the time to find the words to describe this novel. I just have to start by saying that it is one of the best novels I have ever read in my life (and I clearly read a lot). Previous to reading Blackbird House, I had never picked up an Alice Hoffman novel. I knew that she had written Practical Magic and some other novels in the same vein and I thought that she wouldn't be my kind of author. However, when I cracked the spine on the ...more
Connie
The gorgeous cover drew me to Blackbird House, and this book of twelve interwoven short stories did not disappoint me. The stories are set on a small farm in a fishing village on Cape Cod from the 18th Century to the present time. Residents of the Blackbird House have experienced many challenges in life, and deep love that makes it all worthwhile.

Like many of Alice Hoffman's works, this book has elements of magical realism. There have been sightings of the ghost of a young boy lost at sea, and h
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Annalisa
A charming collection of stories detailing the residents of a farmhouse in Cape Cod spanning two hundred years. It took me several stories to realize that the book followed the house not the people, but once I understood that, I stopped trying to connect their stories and enjoyed the vivid setting. I could see and smell that New England charm as Hoffman breathed life to generations of American culture.
K M
This lovely book contains short stories about the various inhabitants of a farmhouse in Cape Cod over a 200 year period. The stories are refreshingly unique, yet bound together by several common threads: the farmhouse itself, the land and all that has been planted on it over time, a strange white blackbird, recurring characters and/or their progeny, and the color red. All of these things make the reader feel familiar with the land and property in an intimate way - as if the reader is connected w ...more
Jess Michaelangelo
This being my first read by Alice Hoffman, I must say--I think I've found a new author to add to my favorites list. I'm absolutely itching to go out and read everything else she's written.

What I loved the most about Alice Hoffman's writing was her style. It was absolutely phenomenal. Between her use of words and her descriptions, I was there. This is definitely one of those books that you just want to soak up and enjoy the words. However, for being a book that at times reads almost like poetry,
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Gina
Jun 25, 2010 Gina rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like sad romances
This book was good, but it couldve been so much better.... Basically its a series of short stories, all taking place at the same little cottage in Cape Code, with a generation or so passing between each entry. The characters are mostly tragic, with an occasional happy ending thrown in to keep things from getting TOO depressing. Each story hinges on love, whether romantic or platonic, and the discovery, exploration, and often, loss of this love. Although the stories are predictable, the character ...more
Viki
A story about the "permance of place".
The story begins on Blackbird HIll" in Cape Cod. A progresses through a series of short stories of the people who are drawn to Blackbird House, over time, and what really endures. DEfinitely a lovely read.
Janette Greene
I LOVED this book. I saw it at the library and got it because I was intrigued by her approach with the "story of the house". Though a bit confusing at first- whenever it progressed to the next story, it was difficult to figure out who and how the next person resided there, but my confusion didn't last for long. It reflected just how I feel when I walk into any old or abandoned building. These are the stories I feel; this is what these places try to tell me, that I can only almost hear. Most of t ...more
Gretchen
I was initially intrigued by the plot of this book, which is essentially a collection of short stories revolving around a property on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I'm unsure if the author intended to create a mystery or light horror novel, but the imagery she used implies that, in my opinion. For example, one of the home's occupants over time was a woman who behaved strangely and was assumed to be a witch. This mystery was never fully resolved. Was the house haunted by the former occupants? Did the ...more
Rachel
I have been thinking a lot about this book and why I felt the way I did about it. I write short stories so this book should have resonated with me. I enjoyed the first of the short stories. Honestly, it was the best one and I wish she had continued on with it or at least with the descendants of the original family. I felt invested in their lives. When she got to the story of the witch girl in the red shoes, she lost me. She tried too hard with all the red, and while I love beautiful language I f ...more
Tressa
A magical story about the inhabitants of a Cape Cod house built at the time of the American Revolution. Some of the generations connect, some don't, but the stories are interesting and tragic.

It contains much of the symbolism for which Hoffman is known.

It's a slim book, but worth the read.
Dolly
This is a wonderful tale of a house and the people who dwell within it throughout the years. Each story carries on from the one before, and although the stories are separate, there are common threads running through and the descendents or older versions of people who appeared in previous stories often become a part of the next. I loved how the color red, the blackbirds, the pears, the sweet peas and others wound themselves throughout the book.

This was one of the selections for my local book club
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Cari
Blackbird House is a beautiful book written in the lyrical style that is so uniquely Alice Hoffman. Despite actually being comprised of a collection of short stories, it reads more like a novel, with a setting that is as haunted as it is beautiful. Each story is set on the same Cape Cod farm near the sea and the collection takes place across the span of over 200 years. The first story tells of the farm's first inhabitants, the fisherman John Hadley, who builds Blackbird House from the boards of ...more
Celine
Blackbird House is a collection of twelve short stories, all taking place in or around an old farm house at Cape Cod. The stories are barely connected, except for some recurring characters.

Alice Hoffman has been on my TBR for a while, and I found an extremely cheap copy of Blackbird House at a sale. I'm not sure this is the best book to start with of hers, and whether Blackbird House is representative of her other books. Although Ms Hoffman's imagination is great, the stories themselves left me
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Nichole
so much history in one house, life and death, all of the in between. love this book so much
Liz
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this was a collection of short stories centered around a single home over several generations, from it's builder to the young, divorced woman, nearly 200 years later, who begins restoring the home and her life. Through all 12 stories, the underlying theme is love in its many forms, both good and bad.

"He thought about how love could move you in ways you wouldn't have imagined, one foot in front of the other, even when you thought you had nothing left insid
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Josephine Merkle
In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots
arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does n
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bookczuk
2010 review:

Picked up at The Book Thing on a recent trip to Baltimore, Maryland. I am happy to now give it another life through BookCrossing.

From another copy of this book, which I read:

I originally picked this up at the library as I tend to like Alice Hoffman a lot. This was a collection of stories that share a common setting, though at different points in time. All are set at Blackbird House, a small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod.

When we first moved to Charleston, we lived in a Victor
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CGregory
I was dissappointed with this book. It seemed to have a very novel idea and approach but just didn't deliver. There was such potential for this to be dazzling, yet instead it gave me a headache.

Firstly, the story was very impersonal. I felt completely on the outside looking in as if hovering over the plot with no interest or interaction with those involved. It was as if I were a mold on a tree growing with busseling life all around me. I can see it, but don't comprehend and could care less sinc
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Dree
I grabbed this off the popular fiction shelf at my library. I then read it in less than 24 hours.

I enjoyed this book, but ultimately found it less than satisfying. I found the first story--of the Hadleys--to be the most moving. Though I loved the sweet peas, turnips, and pear tree continuing (and appropriately changing through time) through the stories, I found the white blackbird to be kind of lame. I am still confused as to whether the original blackbird was white, if he turned white after the
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Mary-Beth
I read this all in a rush last night. I realized suddenly that it was October, and this meant that my book club was meeting next weekend. Thanks to the magic of the Kindle, the book arrived within seconds of my purchase, and I started to read. I was quickly engrossed. I haven't read any Alice Hoffman in years, and now I can't remember why not! She spins beautiful interconnected tales, all surrounding a particular town (and really, a particular farm) far out on the Cape. The characters are vivid, ...more
David Damiano
Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman: 3.5 stars

Blackbird House was an intriguing book whose main character happens to be a house, rather than a person. The book follows the inhabitants of the house from the 1700's in Cape Cod all the way to the present day, and each new family that lived there brings a new added history to the house's legacy.

The first chapter (or vignette) was, in my opinion, the best of the book by far. This chapter is about the first inhabitants of the Blackbird House, a man John
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Bella
Mar 16, 2009 Bella rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I would actually give this book at least 3 1/2 stars. I love the way Hoffman writes, but I did find a few difficulties with this book.

If I were her editor, I would have told her to write fewer vignettes and elaborate on the ones she decided to keep. Each of the stories contains vivid, richly drawn characters that deserved more plot development. There was very little transition between "chapters," making me feel as though I might have missed something along the way. While her writing is so good
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Kathleen Garber
This is the first of Alice Hoffman's books that I've read that I didn't rate 4 stars or higher.

The premise is good, seeing the different people who live in one house over a period of two hundred years. However there were so many characters that I found it hard to follow who was who. I enjoyed it when the next set of people were somehow related to the previous set. When it seemed the next set of people were completely unrelated and had just moved in somehow, I didn't like it as much. For example
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Margaret
Blackbird House is a collection of interconnected short stories, telling the tales of those who have lived on a particular farm near Cape Cod over more than two hundred years. As always, a thread of magic - a white blackbird, a red pear tree, fire and water - runs through Hoffman's stories, and her prose is lyrical and haunting.

I must admit, though, that I tend not to like short stories, as I like to have more time to get to know characters and places than they generally allow, and probably for
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Donna Radcliff
I loved this book. Once I started it, if I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up.

Old houses see many things, many lives, loves, losses, tragedies, triumphs. For over two hundred years Blackbird House has stood just a mile from the coast on Cape Cod, built by John Hadley, a fisherman who wanted to be a farmer. One more journey to sea and then his feet would be forever on land, surrounded by his beloved wife and their sons. But life doesn't always work out as planned and so begin
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Candy
I loved this series of linked short stories centering around the same house through the years.
They reminded me of the early Jodi Picoult books- like Mercy- where some things happened that were just on the edge of believable. They also reminded me of Jennifer Egan's book, The Goon Squad, in that we got to see what happened to some of the characters in the future.
If you had asked me, "Do you want to read a book in the magical-realism style?" I would have said, "Absolutely not." But I liked this so
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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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“Sometimes they would sit in the parlor together, both reading – in entirely separate worlds, to be sure, but joined somehow. When this happened, other people in the family couldn't bring themselves to disturb them. All that could be heard in the parlor was the sound of pages, turning.” 70 likes
“He started to look at me in a manner I recognized: it was the way I looked at a new book, one I had never read before, one that surprised me with all it had to say.” 61 likes
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