Here on Earth

Here on Earth

by Alice Hoffman


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Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780099750819
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2006
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Rules of Magic, Practical MagicThe Marriage of OppositesThe Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on EarthThe Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.


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

Table of Contents


On Friday, September 26th, welcomed Alice Hoffman to discuss HERE ON EARTH.

Moderator: Welcome, Alice Hoffman! Thanks for joining us this afternoon. And welcome to all who have tuned in online. How are you today, Ms. Hoffman?

Alice Hoffman: Good. It is nice to be here.

Jennifer from Arizona: Are any of your books autobiographical in either content or influence?

Alice Hoffman: Well, I think mostly no, because I am not writing from reality-based situations. I think of my books as being like a dream -- in a dream every character is little piece of you, and that is how my novels work.

Ben from RI: I hear conflicting things about your books -- maybe you can help me to understand. On the one hand, I hear about love and the flowers that bloom in your books, the magical realism. On the other, I hear about darkness, about complexity. How do you wrap it all into one? Which of your books do you suggest I read first?

Alice Hoffman: That is a good question, but a complicated question. The truth is, I don't like labels. If people say I do magic realism, it is OK, but I don't think of my work in those terms. Maybe because I have written so many books over a long period of time, they are different from each other. That is what keeps it interesting for me.

Davis from Montreal: Hello, Alice. I am a big fan our your writing. Are you going on a reading tour? Any chance we'll see you coming up here to Canada?

Alice Hoffman: Thanks. I just finished a reading tour, but it did not include Canada. Thank you for the invitation.

Rita Hecht from Manhattan: Are any of your characters based on your childhood experiences growing up in Franklin Square with your cousin Rita Hecht?

Alice Hoffman: Hey, Rita. No, I am really more interested in emotional truth. The book closest to being autobiographical is SEVENTH HEAVEN. It takes place in Long Island, where I grew up, in the time I grew up, but everything else is imagined.

Hank from Metaire, LA: Question you probably get all the time: How do you come up with such creative material to write about? What inspires your creative intuition?

Alice Hoffman: When I start working on a book, I always think I know what it is going to be about, but for me, the process of writing is the way I find out what a book is really going to be about. My problem is that I have too many ideas and I won't have time to finish them all.

Henry Balsam from Philadelphia: Alice: I read, loved, clipped out, and saved a quote from The Philadelphia Inquirer about your last book, PRACTICAL MAGIC. It reads: "Love, both anarchic and exonerating, lies at the heart of things." I love this quote. Tell me, how easy is it to write about love? Do you have to know it to write about it?

Alice Hoffman: When you write fiction, you don't have to know anything. All you need is to know the emotional truth. But it is true, I like to write about love.

Sandi McCraw from North Carolina: I have always wondered how someone can get into an abusive situation and stay there to suffer the abuse. Your novel has made me realize that sometimes the abuse begins so gradually, the victim doesn't see what is happening until it is too late (almost) to remove themselves from the situation. Was this one of your goals in writing the novel? (To bring domestic abuse to a point where someone who has not been abused could understand?) Thanks for a wonderful novel.

Alice Hoffman: Thank you for saying this. When I write a novel, it is not to teach someone else but to teach myself. It always seems to me that people who don't understand domestic abuse seem to be missing the fact that the abuser is not a stranger, it is a husband, father, or boyfriend, somebody loved, and it makes the situation very complicated. And thanks again for the comment -- it means a lot to me.

David from Oyster Bay: Have you had to defend yourself from critics who point the finger and say you are dubbing Emily Brontë?

Alice Hoffman: No, I really haven't, because my book HERE ON EARTH is so different. What I am doing is taking some of the themes she used. I would not try to copy her; I would be crazy to do that. I love WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Do you base any of your characters on people you know? I feel like I know some of characters. Like Alan, for example -- I almost felt like you were describing somebody I've known for 20 years.

Alice Hoffman: The characters I write about are not based on real people. To be honest, I think they contain an element of myself. I want to write fiction. I am not trying to get at a reality that is already there. Maybe we all know somebody like Alan. If we all know somebody like Alan, then his character rings true for different readers even though they have had different experiences.

Marie C. from Los Angeles, CA: I am here at a chat while I am supposed to be working.... What can I say -- you are one of my favorite authors. I heard something about one of your books being made into a movie with Sandra Bullock. Is that true?

Alice Hoffman: Well, thanks for your kind words. I hear that, too. I think it may start in January, directed by Griffin Dunne, who has directed ADDICTED TO LOVE, and it will star Sandra Bullock.

Rory from Florida: Alice, two questions:
1) When you begin your writing sessions, how do you begin? Do you do a writing exercise? How do you start?
2) What was your most favorite part to write in this novel?

Alice Hoffman: Sometimes I do start with an exercise. I sometimes find when I finish a novel and then start another that I forget how to write. I write down facts about the characters so I know them inside and out. And my favorite part of HERE ON EARTH was that I felt so immersed in this place when I was writing it. I painted my office so it felt like I was in autumn all the time, I covered it with leaves and painted it orange and green. And there I was.

Rita Hecht from Manhattan: Will you be doing a book signing anytime soon in the New York area?

Alice Hoffman: I just did Barnes & Noble in Chelsea, and I won't be doing any more soon. Sorry I missed you.

Thomas from Hanover, NH: I've asked this question a couple of times with different authors, and they have all answered by saying their favorite of their novels is their latest work. Would you say that HERE ON EARTH is your favorite of your books? My favorite is PRACTICAL MAGIC, although, I haven't read HERE ON EARTH yet.

Alice Hoffman: Yeah, I guess it is HERE ON EARTH. The truth is, my favorite book is the one that hasn't been written yet, so it is always the next one.

Mark from NYC: What kinds of imaginative games did you play as a child that involved some of the fairy-tale images -- witches, giants, etc.-- that pop up in your books? Thanks.

Alice Hoffman: My favorite things to read were fairy tales when I was younger because I felt they had an emotional truth in them. I was also a fan of reading anything involving a dog. I just wrote a children's book, entitiled FIREFLIES, and it has some of those elements in it.

Andrea from California: To be more specific, which book will be made into a movie? Now you have me all excited.

Alice Hoffman: PRACTICAL MAGIC looks like it might be, but you never know in Hollywood. It seems like PRACTICAL MAGIC may be made into a movie in January.

luna410 from Chicago: Dear Ms. Hoffman, you are my favorite author. My favorite book so far is SEVENTH HEAVEN. I just loved Nora! Your newest book, HERE ON EARTH, was wonderful also. I am wondering if you think that real life has a magical quality -- for example, do you believe in synchronicity?

Alice Hoffman: I do believe in synchronicity, and I do believe there are magical elements in everyday life. All you have to do is look at fireflies on a summer night. If that is not magic, I don't know what is.

Jennifer from Dover, NJ: Do you read your book reviews?

Alice Hoffman: Sometimes. I don't read them all. I think they are dangerous for writers to read -- it is not a good idea to be influenced by too much praise or too much criticism, because really you are writing the book for yourself, and if other people like it, great.

Lynn V. from Chicago: Alice, I just love your novels, because you aren't afraid to examine the magical and ineffable quality of life. I've been taken by your writing ever since I read FORTUNE'S DAUGHTER. My question is this: I also am a writer, but I find it hard to allow myself to get into the magical realm that you explore so beautifully. It's as if there's a rational critic in my head saying, "Nope. Unbelievable." How do you get that critic to shut up?

Alice Hoffman: Such a good question, and it is something I deal with every day. I like to work really early, before that critic is at work, and just let your writing flow even for a short time. I always think the more you write, the more free you become.

Kelly from Cincinnati, OH: How does it feel to be listed as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment?

Alice Hoffman: It feels really, really good.

Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: I am a big fan. Just wondering: What are some of your interests outside of writing?

Alice Hoffman: Well, reading. I am mostly interested in writing. I have kids, dogs, and friends, and basically that is it. That is my life.

Penny from Port Washington, NY: Do you miss Long Island? Do you ever see yourself coming back?

Alice Hoffman: Well, I feel like I am back and around in my writing. It is an important place for me emotionally. I still have friends there, and I do go back and visit.

Frederick from Tampa Bay: Do you believe in spirits, that angels walk the earth? The afterlife?

Alice Hoffman: Well, I don't know. I am pretty open to believing in pretty much anything. In my real life, I am something of a realist. I am the kind of person who, when invited to a friends house for dinner and they begin talking about the ghost that lives there, I leave. I might believe in it, but I am not ready for it.

Jill from New Jersey: Other than writers, who had the most influence on your childhood?

Alice Hoffman: My grandmother did. I was very close to her, and she told me lots of stories about growing up in Russia that I feel influenced my work. She was very supportive -- unconditional love.

Francine from Austin, TX: Hello, Alice. I really enjoy your novels. And I really like the cover of HERE ON EARTH. Do you design your covers?

Alice Hoffman: Thank you. I don't. I really like the cover of HERE ON EARTH. I don't design them, but I feel like I have been really lucky. I love this cover, and I think it is the best.

Andrea from California: I appreciate your writing so much that I wonder what you are reading lately? What authors inspire you?

Alice Hoffman: When I am writing fiction, I don't read. When I was traveling with my book, I read THE COLOR OF WATER by James McBride. I love Anne Tyler, Amy Tan.... There are a lot of people I enjoy reading, but not when I am working.

Mark from NYC: The voice in HERE ON EARTH is very interesting, somewhat of an omniscient, forecasting narrator. Can you tell us about that decision?

Alice Hoffman: Interesting question, because it doesn't feel like a decision. When I write the book, the voice comes to me. HERE ON EARTH is about a whole town, so the voice telling the story has to know pretty much everything about that town.

Amy G. from UT: Do you believe in extraterrestrial life? Friend or foe?

Alice Hoffman: I am ready to believe.

Babette from University of Virginia: Do you read Márquez? Borges? I personally find Latin American literature to be the most challenging of categorical genres.

Alice Hoffman: I have read both of those writers, and I think they are doing some very interesting work. Maybe it is my bias, but I have a bias for North American women writers.

Pauly Davidoff from Massachussetts: Have you ever appeared online before? What do you think about the Internet in relation to book sales and discussions?

Alice Hoffman: I have been online, but I have to say, I am not online myself. Personally I tend to get addicted to things, and I am afraid I might get addicted online instead of writing my book.

Jeffrey from Haverford, PA: I'm curious to know how much of your day consists of writing. Do you write every day? For how long?

Alice Hoffman: When I am working on a book, I write very early in the morning for a couple of hours; then I write on and off all day till about 3. But when I am working on a book, I am very involved; I carry it around with me even when I am not working on it.

Moderator: Thanks again for spending time with us today, Alice Hoffman. We hope you'll come back and visit online with us again. Any final remarks before we go?

Alice Hoffman: Well, I just wanted to thank you for inviting me to be here today, and thanks to my readers.

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Here on Earth 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Disappointed with this book. Had high expectations. A little Wuthering Heights but in reality I could no more sympathize with the main heroine than I could with the hero.
Amber Rinker More than 1 year ago
I was getting into it until around the middle when it turned into Wuthering Heights. Pretty much the exact same story.... really is there nothing else to write about?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*cough*if you have to explain something out of the story youre doing it wrong. Find way to intergrate it into the story next time. Like a dramatic reveil. *cough* <br> <p> Yikes Im in a nitpicky mood today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a great fan of the author and have loved all of her novels. ~*~LEB~*~
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anonymous67 More than 1 year ago are all of Alice  Hoffman's  amazing, magical books are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First rate story. Beautiful prose
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This exceptionally well written book is an update of Wuthering Heights with a twist. It is the story of March (CATHY) returning to her hometown after being in California for many years. Once home, she meets up with Hollis (HEATHCLIFF). Will she embrace her second chance at a first love?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But good for some mindless reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book that I read by Alice Hoffman. I haven't decided yet whether it will be my last. Usually a book that was on the Oprah book club list is a homerun. I did not care for this book. The charaters were weak and pathetic. The storyline didnt flow and there were a lot of "dead ends" to several plots. The particular edition that I read contained both spelling and grammatical errors.I may give something else of hers a try. Perhaps something newer.
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I read this book when I was 14 or 15 yrs. young, (: I've always enjoyed reading, but for some reason I couldn't close this book. I would read to late hours of the night under my sheets with a hand flash light! When my husband got me my nook the first book I ever bought was this one! Great job to Alice Hoffman!
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Carolyn Seals More than 1 year ago
wuthering heights is the original and much better done-