Izetta Autumn's Reviews > The Probable Future

The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman
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's review
Feb 19, 2008

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bookshelves: magical-realism-fantasy
Read in February, 2008

Some of the writing in Alice Hoffman's novel is truly inspired. Her characters do indeed come to life, even if at times they seem to be tried and true caricatures of New England. Hoffman has been quoted as saying that "books may be the only real magic," and certainly it's clear from her prose that she wants the reader to feel magical.

The Probably Future follows the story of three Sparrow womyn: Elinor, Jenny, and Stella. The three are descended from a long line of womyn known for their unusual gifts: the inability to feel pain, being able to run faster than a deer, the ability to stay under water for 20 minutes, to stop feelings of pain. The legacy of the Sparrow womyn gifts land squarely on Stella Sparrow who is gifted with the ability to see when a person will die.

Amidst the tale of a rivalry between mother and daughter - Elinor and Jenny, who runs away from home at 17 to marry the town loser, and Jenny and Stella, who clash over Jenny's over-protectiveness, is a murder mystery. Hoffman though clearly is less concerned about the murder in her novel - at least the one in the present day. Instead, the murder which Stella foretells early in the novel is a plot device; designed to return each pivotal character back to the small town of Unity. By the end of the novel, with this made completely clear, as a reader I was disappointed. - it's seemed far too easy. It stretched my ability to extend my "suspension of disbelief."

Cute and an enjoyable read. I found overall that I appreciated Hoffman's use of metaphor (even if at times repititve - for instance, with snow) because she so clearly draws the location and personalities of her characters.
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