Here on Earthby Alice Hoffman, Susan Ericksen
From bestselling author Alice Hoffman comes Here on Earth, a spellbinding tale of love and obsession. After nearly twenty years of living in California, March Murray, along with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, returns to the small Massachusetts town where she grew up to attend the funeral of Judith Dale, the beloved housekeeper who raised her. Thrust into the world of her past, March slowly realizes the complexity of the choices made by those around her, including Mrs. Dale, who knew more of love than March could have ever suspected; Alan, the brother whose tragic history has left him grief-stricken, with alcohol his only solace; and Hollis, the boy she loved, the man she can't seem to stay away from. Erotic, disturbing, and compelling, Here on Earth is the dramatic and lyrical account of the joys of love, and the destruction love can release.
For more than 20 years, New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman has been writing stories that have touched the hearts of her legions of fans. Now, with her 12th novel, Here On Earth, Hoffman explores the hidden passions that lurk in suburban Massachusetts and the damaging results love can have.
After nearly two decades of living on the West Coast, March Murray, along with her feisty teenage daughter, Gwen, returns to her hometown in Massachusetts. She returns to attend the funeral of Judith Dale, the housekeeper who helped raised her. However, by returning to this sleepy suburb, she is reunited with Hollis, March's former soul mate and lover. Hollis was an abandoned child who March's father had taken in as a teenager and treated like a son. When Hollis left after a fight, March waited every day for three years for him to return, wondering what had gone wrong. Now she has been reunited with her long-lost love.
By encountering Hollis, March becomes painfully aware of the choices that she has made in life as well as the choices everyone around her has made -- including Judith Dale and March's brother Alan. March learns that Judith knew a lot more about love than she could have ever suspected. And Alan, who always resented Hollis's presence and was painfully malicious to him, has been left grief-stricken, with alcohol as his only solace.
March soon realizes that her attraction to Hollis has not died, and that she still has an overwhelming attraction to the onetime abandoned child, who is now a millionaire. March jeopardizes her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, and her own happiness in one final attempt to reclaim the past. Glamour magazine writes, "March quickly becomes obsessed with her long-lost love, Hollis, a bitter and difficult man whom March believes she alone understands. That big trouble will ensue seems all but inevitable. But Hoffman's taste for melodrama is balanced here by her uncanny ability to imbue even the most recognizable situations with supernatural vividness -- an unpredictable touch of magic that is this author's calling card."
Hoffman's fans won't be disappointed by the airy-fairy Here on Earth, her 12th novel, which weaves all of Hoffman's usual themes into a dreamy, intricate family melodrama, complete with alcoholism, wife-beating, obsessional love and whiffs of murder. It's the story of March Murray, who returns to her ancestral home at Fox Hill in New England after spending decades away in "lemon-colored" Palo Alto. In tow is her difficult teenage daughter Gwen, who is described as "pretty ... in spite of all her sabotage." At issue is a death in the family, but we know that March is really back to face her old ghosts, this time in the form of her adopted brother Hollis, whom she has been obsessively thinking about ever since his disappearance 20 years earlier.
Confused? Don't be. Here on Earth, despite its convoluted plot threads and histories, is at heart a romance novel with a bite. As with a good made-for-TV movie, you can pretty much guess what will happen to poor old March, whose naiveté is at best frustrating and at worst unlikable. Nor is it any surprise that Hollis -- with his black, snapping eyes, and whose exits are followed by a blast of cold wind -- reveals himself to be Evil Incarnate: Subtlety is not one of Hoffman's strong points.
Still, this novel's comfy, confident voice is enough to lure you into an armchair for the better part of an evening. Hoffman's world is a place where emotions become aromas: Longing is "the scent of grass on her pillow"; anger is a "scorching scent"; mourning is "the scent of roses sweet and ripe and sorrowful." Moons peep out behind trees, fox-colored dogs herald the advent of evil and dreams are to be courted and followed.
Hoffman relies on her readers suspending a certain amount of disbelief, which may lull her into thinking she can get away with some occasionally terrible writing. "One look from him is more substantial than the wooden bar she's leaning her elbows upon," Ms. Hoffman breathlessly writes when March spies Hollis for the first time. "It's realer than the bottles of whiskey lined up behind the counter; realer than the pull of fabric as Susie tugs on her jacket." Thankfully, descriptions like that are few and far between. Ms. Hoffman may have more in common with Robert James Waller than Robert Louis Stevenson, but Here on Earth is no toothless romance. It's curiously pleasurable, and reading it induces only a minimum of guilt. --Salon
It might seem that March Murray has purely sentimental reasons for leaving her apparently happy life in California (nice house, professor husband) to attend her former housekeeper's funeral in Jenkintown, Mass., the bleak, suffocatingly tiny town where she grew up. After all, Mrs. Dale did help March's father raise her after the girl's mother died, and she remained a loyal friend until her death. But anyone who knew March in her teenage years must suspect that her real reason for returning with sullen teenage daughter in tow is for a reunion with Hollis, the bad boy March was once inseparable from. An abandoned child and the product of a series of detention homes, Hollis was brought to the Murray house as a charity-case boarder when he was in his teens. He kept his own counsel, except when sending smoldering glances March's way. The two became lovers until a misunderstanding split them apartMarch to marry the rich boy next door, Hollis to amass a fortune, marry March's sister-in-law, and survive her to wait, brooding, for March's return. Their heated reunion leads to the breakup of March's marriage, and, despite the warnings of practically everyone in town, March moves into Hollis's gloomy mansion, puts up with his neurotic possessiveness, and watches him scare her daughter back to California before she realizes that the Hollis she lives with now is nothing but the evil, heartless relic of the wounded boy she once loved.
A chilly, hopeless love story with an unhappy conclusion. Hard to see what readers will find to like in such a tale.
- Brilliance Audio
- Publication date:
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.40(d)
Meet the Author
Alice Hoffman is the best-selling author of The Dovekeepers, and several other novels, including, 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.
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Date of Birth:
- March 16, 1952
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
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