Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kelly's Review: BLACKBIRD HOUSE by Alice Hoffman


By: Alice Hoffman

Ballantine Books / The Random House Publishing Group /New York

First Printing: 2004

ISBN: 978-0-345-45593-2

Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Goodreads

Concept: “Nestled in Blackbird House, a small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod, John Hadley dreams that his family will prosper. Over the course of two centuries, many will call this place their home, each linked by the past left between its walls. There is 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 his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; and Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of love until it is too late. From the late eighteenth century to the modern day, each generation is connected to the one before – and to the underlying lessons of love, shattering secrets, and the enduring power of hearth and home.”

Review: Every once in a while, I lift my head up from my favorite genre of paranormal romance and try and read something else and hopefully enjoy it. A few months ago, I discovered an author I fell in complete love with, Sara Addison Allen who is probably most popular for her first book, Garden Spells although my favorite book of hers is The Girl Who Chased the Moon. The genre was fantasy, a genre I’ve never really paid much attention to but really wanted to get more into. Friends immediately suggested Alice Hoffman. I knew her name from the movie Practical Magic which was adopted from her book which I had never read. So I pop onto Amazon and start looking at her books and for whatever reason, Blackbird House stuck out as a book I really wanted to read.

This book came to me from the local library so I had to read it immediately. I put down a newly started BDB book and delved into this rather small book. I am SO glad I did and now I will be looking for more of Ms. Hoffman’s books. This book was so enchanting, so lovely, that it just makes me tingle. When reading this book, I was hanging on to every lovely written word. Ms. Hoffman’s style of writing is SO wonderful and warm. If you have an inkling of interest in reading anything in the fantasy genre, after going to Ms. Allen’s books (still my favorite), run to this book.

This book is a series of short stories really, that connect a home/farm that was built with the most excellent of intentions and lots of love. Tragedy ensues, the home changes hands and each story tells of a certain connection that some of its inhabitants share. The main thing that connects these stories though is not just the house itself, but love. After the first story of how the home was built, we meet a woman who loves the wrong man, then realizes who her real love is...and in the story after that, her love for her son. In life, during different tragedies of love, such as losing a spouse or a child, nothing can console and you are forced to change your whole self, maybe going down a road you shouldn’t go down. Some of these stories show that love is patient and the heart has room for all kinds of love for all kinds of people. One story is about a girl who is about to abandon her child, and the man who stops her. The eventual sacrifices both make are touching and surprising. The last story is not about love for another, but love and acceptance of one’s self. Woven throughout are pieces of nature including colors, fish and animals and fruits and vegetables that are as much a part of life as anything that any of us go through. This book definitely has a high emotional impact.

One of the quotes from a reviewer says it best I think: “Blackbird House is filled with symbols of the strongest human emotions – hope, devotion, anger, pain. And these are described as beautifully and simply as nature itself.” [San Jose Mercury News]

This is a small book. I recommend sitting in a comfy chair by a fire on a cold day reading it with a cup of tea at hand. Then sit back and take a deep breath and think about the Blackbird Houses you have lived in.

What I liked: The words! Every so often an author can write with a certain flair. Words make you feel and take you somewhere. They make you relate and have compassion and make your heart pound. For me, this is one of those books.

What I disliked: Some of the stories ended rather abruptly and I felt let down even though the very next story usually explained why. It was where the author wanted to take the reader, so I am not taking away from the book for that reason but still, I would have appreciated it more maybe if it was different. I wanted more in the ending even though I think I’m understanding that the author said all she really needed to say. Maybe I just loved the book so much that I never wanted it to end?

My rating: 5 SOLID brightly shimmering GOLD Stars.

by Kelly

for Book Lover's Hideaway


Annette Mills said...

Huh. Really didn't know she did Practical Magic. Love that movie. Anyway, I know I've read something of hers, and liked it. Just can't remember the title. This one sounds good. I'll add it to my list!

Jenny said...

I love when I step away from my normal parnaormal YA and romance reads and find something else that really interests me. This sounds like a great group of stories, so thanks for sharing, I'm going to look into this author for sure!

Anonymous said...

I recently listened to The Girl who Chased the Moon on audio and really liked that. I feel like I was the last person in the world to listen to that author. I really liked your review, so I'll have to add it to my tbr pile. Sometimes I need to take a break from YA and from manly men and read something sweet :)

LJ said...

I did see Practical Magic and really liked it. It's so hard to take a chance on genres that your not really used to. I've had some real let-downs doing that. It's nice when you find a winner. This book sounds great!

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