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After Alice

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Having escaped the place in her youth, retired professor Sidonie von Taler returns to her ancestral Okanagan valley orchards still very much in the shadow of her deceased older sister Alice.

As she sifts through the detritus of her family history, Sidonie is haunted by memories of trauma and triumph in equal measure, and must reconcile past and present while reconnecting wi
Paperback, 311 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by NeWest Press
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Kerry Clare
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a pleasure is spending a weekend devouring a book, and for me this weekend, that book was After Alice by Karen Hofmann, which I absolutely adored. It was the most unCanLitty CanLit I’ve encountered in ages, the story instead calling to mind English novelists like Anita Brooker and Daphne DuMaurier, and then Wallace Stegner, Barbara Kingsolver and Joan Didion in its evocation of place. This is a debut novel by Hofmann, whose previous poetry collection was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay ...more
Look for my upcoming review in The Winnipeg Review online.
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a terrific exploration of life in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia post WWII. The sense of place was exquisite, the orchards, hills, lakes, etc. I'm not sure the title really evokes much of the novel itself: Alice wasn't a fully developed character for me. There were times when I found Sidonie to be irritating rather than sympathetic, but that's OK. Family dynamics and 1950s customs were beautifully portrayed. I thought the book was excellent over all, especially for a first ...more
It seems to be in the same plan as every other first novel published in 2014. My theory is that there's a formula in play for first novels by women writers from Western Canada: the narrator finds some archival material that leads her on an investigative journey to the past, in which dark family secrets are explored and resolved.
This is the second of three similar novels I have tried, and I can't get past page 163. When the blurbs are more interesting than the work itself, it's a bad sign. I coul
Catherine Cronin
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Bentz
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding novel based in B.C. in the 50's and upward.

The first 75 pages or so were kind of hard to navigate but I'm glad I persisted because it is an excellent first novel for the author. I could easily identify with much of those times, the fashions, the freedom, the childhood issues, the sibling relationships.

Its such a good read on so many levels. Kelowna history, orchardist history, social mores and small town relationships of the 50's, the division and rebirth of a family.

Should be a b
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The blurb is right: After Alice reminded me of The Stone Angel, big time. This is good, because TSA is one of my favourite books, but it’s also bad, because nothing can really measure up. Eventually, I realized there are enough differences here for After Alice to stand on its own, majorly influenced by Laurence, perhaps, but not derivative.

Read my full review at:
Ellie Hender
Nov 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Beautifully writen, but somehow the story never captured me. I think perhaps it was because it took me a long time to read (3 weeks) and I kept losing the thread. To many interruptions at this time of year!
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Think I have found a new author. Loved this book to the point could not put down. She is very lyrical with a huge vocabulary . Glad I read it on my iPad where there is an instant dictionary. Would recommend for Book Club.
Sherry Audet
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Give this book a pass.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great book about the Okanagan Valley and the life of the orchardists.
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Karen Hofmann grew up in the Okanagan Valley, completed a BA and MA at the University of Victoria, and now teaches English and creative writing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. She lives at the edge of a former pine forest with her husband, many children and small animals, and the constant fear that she has forgotten to do something important.

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