Linda Branham Greenwell's Reviews > The Red Garden

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
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's review
May 31, 11

bookshelves: fiction, historical, fantasy
Read from May 28 to 31, 2011

This book takes place in a specific area, a small town in Massachusetts ... and each chapter tells the a story of the people who lived there during that time. At first I didn't think I would like the book... but I ended up loving it.
The first main character was Hallie Brady... she is a unique and determined person, who even makes friends with a bear. Each Chapter is a time in the future.. a descendant of Hallie.
Hallie's story begins in 1700's - each descendants story builds upon the preceding story. The prominent thread is a garden whose soil is so red that everything that grow there takes on the same hue. These stories are full of mysticism and hold an ethereal, other worldly quality along with the right balance of realism.
Alice Hoffman is masterful at creating this unique balance while the stories carry the reader along on an easy current. The prose is fluid yet the messages clearly shine through. These stories are about people and how varied they can be, and yet at the same time carry that willfulness that was very apparent in Hallie. Each story highlights the struggles of various personalities who for one reason or another, exist in close proximity. There is a strong connection with a nature theme present throughout and a necessary return to the natural world for the most pivotal characters, many of whom seem to arrive at the same place even though their journeys are different. Some of the earlier occurrences endure in a mythical story passed down through the years. Example: a child who drowned in the early years... a story develops about her that she is still seen around Eel lake where she drowned. Each year the school presents a play called The Apparition, based upon the sightings of this child.
If you are a fan of the mystical, metaphorical, have a healthy respect for symbolism, and believe in a reason for everything, you will most likely enjoy this book.
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