Blue Diary

Blue Diary

3.7 30
by Alice Hoffman
     
 

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The courage to face the unthinkable is at the core of this magnificent new novel. How do we manage to confront the truths in our lives and find forgiveness in the most unforgiving of circumstances? How do we love truly and deeply in a world that is as brutal as it is beautiful?

When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summer morning, none of his

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Overview

The courage to face the unthinkable is at the core of this magnificent new novel. How do we manage to confront the truths in our lives and find forgiveness in the most unforgiving of circumstances? How do we love truly and deeply in a world that is as brutal as it is beautiful?

When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summer morning, none of his neighbors would guess that for more than thirteen years, he has been running from his past. His true nature has been locked away, as hidden as his real identity. But sometimes locks spring open, and the devastating truths of Ethan Ford's history shatter the small-town peace of Monroe, affecting family and friends alike.

This deeply felt and compelling novel makes it clear why Alice Hoffman has been called "one of the best writers we have today" (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Honest, shattering, seductive, and ultimately healing, Blue Diary is an unforgettable novel by a writer who tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader's heart" (Time).

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Editorial Reviews

Susan Isaacs
With her glorious prose and extraordinary eye, Alice Hoffman seems to know what it means to be human.
Newsday
San Francisco Chronicle
A complex and haunting story of how human beings transform themselves not because of their wants but in spite of them.
New York Times Book Review
The drama is so propulsive, you sense a little bit of glee in Hoffman's tearing down of the gingerbread house she has built.
Entertainment Weekly
Alice Hoffman draws her characters with great care.
Newark Star-Ledger
[Hoffman] has long been one of the major talents in contemporary literature. —2001)
Kirkus Reviews
A small-town hero with a criminal past raises unsettling questions about guilt and trust, in this unsparing new novel by Hoffman (The River King). Everyone in Monroe, Massachusetts, adores Ethan Ford. He's the town's most reliable contractor, a supportive Little League coach, and a life-saving member of the volunteer fire department. He and his wife of 13 years, Jorie, are still so in love that they've tumbled back into bed on the June morning when the local sheriff rings the bell to arrest him on a 15-year-old murder charge. Ethan freely admits it. "The way he sees it the truth is a simple thing: He is not the same man any more." The self-obsessed, violent drifter who raped and killed Rachel Morris became another person after that night, asserts Ethan, and enough people in Monroe agree to form an ardent defense committee, including sexy Rosarie Williams, casual breaker of teenage boys' hearts, who thinks Ethan is her dream lover. But Rosarie's 12-year-old sister, Kat, who recognized Ethan's photo on TV and turned him in, is not the only person who thinks guilt can't be shed so easily. His son, Collie, doesn't even want to see him, and Jorie reels from the knowledge that her life has been founded on a lie. When she goes to Maryland to confront what Ethan did, the victim's bitter younger brother reminds her, "My sister never had the chance to be a different woman" and gives her Rachel's blue diary to drive home his point. Ethan's claims of repentance and redemption come to seem much too glib as Hoffman skillfully spins a disciplined narrative (the whimsy and the descriptions of nature for once held in check) focused on the struggles of Monroe's stunned residents to makesense of this abrupt fissure in their accepted reality. Hopeful developments for the strong supporting characters prevent the story from seeming entirely grim, but the final decisions made by Jorie and others suggest that forgiveness should not be lightly given—or requested. A welcome return to top form by a gifted, popular author.
From the Publisher
"Hoffman ably sends her theme of loss and deception reverberating across several well-made subplots... fast-moving."—New York Times Book Review

"...[H]er observations of the natural world are conveyed with gorgeous clarity and the supporting characters are roundly drawn."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587241369
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
12/28/2001
Series:
Wheeler Large Print Book Series
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
361
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

BLUE DIARY
by Alice Hoffman

 

INTRODUCTION

When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summermorning, none of his neighbors would guess that for more than thirteen years, he has been running from his past. His true nature has been locked away, as hidden as his real identity. But sometimes locks spring open, and the devastating truths of Ethan Ford's history shatter the small-town peace of Monroe, affecting family and friends alike.

 

ABOUT ALICE HOFFMAN

Alice Hoffman is the author of fifteen novels: Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortuneís Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three childrenís books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997).

Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. In Blue Diary, Alice Hoffman uses imagery from the natural world to mirror events that take place in the lives of her characters. Why is it portentous when she writes in Chapter One that lilies "only last for a single day, and then, no matter what a person might do to save them, they are fated, by God, or circumstance, or nature, to fade away?" What else in the novel is as ephemeral as the lilies Hoffman describes?
     
  2. Things are not always as they seem in Monroe, Massachusetts. Do the beautiful people in the novel have more to hide than those who are less physically blessed? What do you think Hoffman might be trying to say about physical beauty?
     
  3. Why does Kat "save" Rosarie from running away with Ethan, if she knows it will mean staying on the losing end of her sister's mean behavior all her life?
     
  4. Kat asserts that her decision to report Ethan to the police had nothing to do with the loss of her own father. Do you believe her? Why or why not?
     
  5. Why does Jorie, after reading Rachel Morris's last diary entry, immediately decide to leave Ethan, and her hometown, behind? What does James Morris mean when he says Jorie will know what to do if she reads the diary?
     
  6. Loyalty and devotion are important themes in Blue Diary. Do you think Jorie shows sufficient loyalty to her husband?
     
  7. Charlotte Kite endures divorce, the loss of both her parents in high school, and breast cancer, but she finds a lover in Barney Stark. Jorie leads a charmed life until her husband's heinous crimes are revealed. Which woman has had to endure more? Which situation is resolved better?
     
  8. Should the deeds from our past be used to judge us in the present? Does benevolent behavior in the recent past "undo" reprehensible behavior from long ago?

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Hoffman ably sends her theme of loss and deception reverberating across several well-made subplots... fast-moving."—New York Times Book Review

"...[H]er observations of the natural world are conveyed with gorgeous clarity and the supporting characters are roundly drawn."—Publishers Weekly

 

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