Blue Diary

Blue Diary

3.7 30
by Alice Hoffman, Joyce Bean
     
 

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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

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).

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590866443
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
09/15/2002
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hrs.

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?

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

 

Meet the Author

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), Fortune's Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children's 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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
March 16, 1952
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
Website:
http://www.alicehoffman.com

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Blue Diary 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was my first book of Ms Hoffman, the description of flowers and fields i must admit got a bit on my nerves and also too many situations left as if forgotten by the author. how about what happened to charlotte? is it that natural that a wife is left with 3 kids with no feelings at all, {barney's wife} and what about the blue diary what did it hold so special to name a book after it ?? Apple trees where much more mentioned than the blue diary :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader and LOVE to find new authors. After reading Hoffman's book Here on Earth, I thought I found a new favorite, BUT this book was terrible!!! It is very rare that I really dislike a book this much, but I found it to be very boring! How many tree/flower references can one author make?!?? YIKES!!! Not a fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story - Well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr-SandraFortune More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman's prose is so gorgeous it reads like poetry. This book delivers a great story, too. When Ethan's past finally catches up with him, his wife is left to pick up the pieces of her life. I'm a huge Hoffman fan, and this book is one of her best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
evesdrop More than 1 year ago
paying $12.99 for the Nook Book version of this, I wish I could get my money back...there were so many grammar and punctuation errors, word omissions and other typos that it made it very difficult to read this novel. Too bad because it wasn't really a bad book, but with the price that the ebooks are, it wasn't worth the money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SayCheeze More than 1 year ago
A truly well written story that can't help but make you think "what if?" What would you do if you made a mistake (a terrible mistake) and tried to start over only to have the past catch up. What would you do if you married someone who turned out to be someone you didn't know. Alice Hoffman knows how to weave words in such a way that they envelope you within the pages of the book and keep you there long after the last page is read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VikkiReader More than 1 year ago
This is one Alice Hoffman book I recommend without a doubt. It was one of her absolute best However, it does steer slightly from her usual. It does have a scary, morbid side but it was GREAT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book fairly quickly. It was a fast and easy read. Hoffman did a good job of keeping the relation of the title in suspense until a good way through the book. I will admit that at times, the descriptions could become long, and the change between character voices was not easily identified. However, for my first Hoffman read, I thought it was okay.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed. I thought the discriptions of the countryside and flowers repetetive. The characters were not that well balanced and I thought the emotional relationship between the son, mother, and father not well developed. It seemed like a sophisticated soap opera.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book leaves you wanting more, but doesn't leave too many questions unanswered. I think that the reader is left to come to their own conclusions, which is good. I don't want to be force-fed endings or to have a book come to such a conclusive ending that I don't have something to think about after I'm finished. What would be the point? I love the description of the scenery and the flowers. It allows me to visualize. This book creates controversy and makes you wonder what you would do in the character's shoes. There is no right or wrong answers, just emotions. I love the character development, even Jorie's best friend has a struggle and a purpose in the plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is something that i think about even after i finished reading it. A book that effects me like that doesn't come around everyday. It was great, I would have liked to known what was written in the diary more though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! The characters, the writing, the descriptions - what a great, captivating story. Most books I give away after reading, but this one is a keeper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are two antagonists in this story. Ethan Ford, the man whose homicidal past forms the main plot of the story, has spent years trying to atone for the brutal rape and murder of a young girl by living a perfect life as a pillar of the community in a small New England town. But the more frightening antagonist was Kat, the disturbed 12-year-old neighbor who turns Ethan Ford in to the police and continues to try to "set the world right" through questionably rationalized actions, all part of her misguided attempt to spare another family from the pain she felt when her own father committed suicide. Where Ethan's violence was outward and physical, Kat's violence is internal, and even more twisted and hidden than Ethan's. I ended the story feeling more afraid of this girl than I was of the murderer; as violent as his past had been, he had not carried out his crimes under the spell of the perceived righteousness of his actions, making the 12-year-old zealot the most frightening character of all. This unexpected duality is Alice Hoffman's strongest achievement in Blue Diary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ALTHOUGH THE AUTHOR WRITES AS IF SHE IS ACTUALLY TELLING YOU ABOUT HER CHARACTERS, I FINISHED THE BOOK WANTING MORE. I STILL DIDNT UNDERSTAND CERTAIN THINGS AS TO WHY JORIE LEFT ETHAN AS WELL AS I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS WRITTEN IN THE BLUE DIARY. I WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHARACTERS.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read Practical magic and so thought i would give this book a try and i have to say i loved it. The way at first the characters seem so perfect, so in love only to discover a darker side to the husband........ I found the book gripping and captivating and i quite liked the way that Hoffman describes the scenes with such detail throughout the book, i think you need to look to deeper to really find yourself in the heart of the book but once you get there you really can feel the emotion in the characters and the author. All in all highly recommended and if you are looking for a book that will 'pull you in' read this!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Blue Diary in 2 days because I couldn't put it down. It was spellbinding and the more pages I tuned the more I liked it. The author makes great refrences to nature and that plays a big part in the book.