The Red Garden

The Red Garden

by Alice Hoffman
3.5 239

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The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting more than three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters' lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.

The Red Garden introduces us to the luminous and haunting world of Blackwell, Massachusetts, capturing the unexpected turns in its history and in our own lives. From the town's founder, a brave young woman from England who has no fear of blizzards or bears, to the young man who runs away to New York City with only his dog for company, the characters in The Red Garden are extraordinary and vivid: a young wounded Civil War soldier who is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman who meets a fiercely human historical character, a poet who falls in love with a blind man, a mysterious traveler who comes to town in the year when summer never arrives.

At the center of everyone’s life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.

Beautifully crafted and shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307720832
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/25/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 4,610
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty bestselling works of fiction, including Practical Magic, a major motion picture; Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club selection; the highly praised historical novel The Dovekeepers; and, most recently, The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Her books for teens include Green Angel, Green Witch, Incantation, The Fortelling, and Aquamarine, also a major motion picture, starring Emma Roberts. Visit her online at


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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The Red Garden 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 240 reviews.
TheCrowdedLeaf More than 1 year ago
When one goes through a bit of a reading slump it's always a delight to be pulled back into the love of literature by one of your go-to, favorite authors. You know you'll never be disappointed, and I was not when I picked up Alice Hoffman's latest release, The Red Garden. A self-proclaimed love letter to Massachusetts, The Red Garden is a compilation of linked short stories revolving around the town of Blackwell. From the day Blackwell is founded, it becomes a town like no other. Whether the death of a small girl, the planting of an apple orchard, or the fish-like woman who stalks the shores of the Eel River, each story introduces a character we come to know intimately. Each glimpse into their lives is, albeit brief, entirely whole and endearing. Hoffman's stories range from the lighthearted and mischievous, to the eerie and sinister. Without straying from her classically magical prose, each tale is mythologically simplistic, yet haunting and sensual. We meet a hunchback who falls in love with the prettiest girl in town. We meet a woman living in solitude, afraid to admit to others her true desires. We meet two brothers, as different as night and day, traveling by foot through the woods with nothing but apple seeds and each other. It became a delight to finish one story and turn the page to the next, wondering what tale Hoffman would come up with. True to form, as delightful as every full novel I've read by her, The Red Garden is classic Hoffman in a fresh package. Though she has written story collections in the past, The Red Garden feels different; it feels like Hoffman truly invested a piece of herself in this one. For skeptics wary of the short story collection, take it not for granted. Hoffman shows us why this art form can be as extraordinary as a full novel. Not to be missed.
Cheriemimi More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. It kept me completely rivited. I recommened it for sure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I have read a book that I can actually say was phenomenal. The characters and the way they intertwine throughout the book keep it easily flowing. It was a moving book with short stories that are sure to touch the heart of anyone reading the book. At times I found myself crying, especially over the dog that refused to leave his owner's grave day in and day out. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was wonderful. It caught me from the very first page and I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a long time Alice Hoffman fan, I consider this one of her best books. I love her sensitive writing about animals and nature plus there is always an element of magic. I shed a few tears reading this book.
anonymous67 More than 1 year ago they get any better than Alice Hoffman? The Red Garden is a beautiful compilation of intertwined short stories that touch your heart and your imagination. The writing is magical and mythic. Reading Alice Hoffman is always a wonderful and addictive experience. Do not miss her latest achievement.
jessie2 More than 1 year ago
This book is stunning. I hated putting it down. Beautifully written with just the right amount of Hoffman's magic. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you could not figure out the links from one story\chapter in this book to the next, you weren't reading it very well. Each chapter could stand alone in its beautifully descriptive prose, but all the generations put together made an unforgettable story. Such a clever device, putting together a string of "snapshots" that give the reader insight into each character and that character's place in relation to the others in the narrative. The reading, having "met" each character's ancestor, comes to realize why each successive person behaves the way he or she does. One must discover each person through small, subtly revealing details that lead to a string of "aha" moments at the end of each chapter. When you finish one chapter you can't wait for the surprises in the next. It reminded me of the James Michener sagas, and also - thanks to that earlier reviewer for the reminder it IS a bit like The Red Violin although it is the town that is the common thread from generation to generation, not an object. I will definitely read more by this author.
A_FriendJG More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! The author does a great job of showing how entwined all our lives can be and how our secrets and lies play a part in the lives of others. This was my first time reading anything by Alice Hoffman but it will not be my last.
gailaleaGS More than 1 year ago
I love the way she conveys aloneness.
Heather Bash More than 1 year ago
Im not really sure how I feel about this book. Some of the stories are really touching. But so many people in the town are tortured souls- seriously no one is just plain happy?? But its interesting how all the lives entwine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't care for this one. Each chapter is based on different characters. Because of this, you barely get to know the characters, and it's difficult to really get into the story. By the end, the entire book seemed pointless. It felt like it had potential to be a good book, but overall it was just lacking.
Jennifer Boynton More than 1 year ago
Magical, mystical fairy tales! I couldn't put this book down.
Mary Willis More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman has a distinctive writing style and these stories are faithful to her talent for intertwining characters over time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A real good read from an emotionally mature writer. Much appreciated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good. Vignettes of life from a few families in a small town, concentrated on love and loss and love found again. Haunting and deeply moving. Many reviewers are upset this is not a neatly tied package where all stories suddenly get resolved at the end. Don't expect that kind of closure and you will find this a lovely read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I began the book, I wasn't sure what I was reading as I bought it awhile back, but I quickly got into the interesting way the author brought these stories to life. It reminds me of my friend, Harry Chapin's, creative way of presenting his songs through story-telling. Then I looked at the author's name and realized her strong background. This is well presented and very different. I read it in my garden in the Spring, so fitting, and really enjoyed each story and the way she cleverly brought the stories to life.
Love_my_BooksDJ More than 1 year ago
A beautiful cohesive story spanning over two hundred years in a small Massachusetts village. Touching, provocative characters form and pass on as each chapter of this small history unfolds. Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I finished it in one night!
Chowbell More than 1 year ago
Fanciful and yet very real stories about human nature and life. This is a lovely book.
recreational-reader More than 1 year ago
This book sounded promising and the story it weaved over a centuries time would have been good if it had an ending that tied it all together. I kept reading (even through the chapters where I had no connection with the characters) because I thought the story would have been tied up in a nice package at the end. It was a big let down. Stick with Sarah Addison Allen for a story with a good ending.
Charlotte_Isabella More than 1 year ago
Not the best book in the world, but a sufficient easy read. This is a collection of short stories, the only thing in common with all of them is that they are somehow all related (the characters are somehow all related to one another). The stories are very well written, but are anti-climactic. This is not the most exciting book on the bookshelf, but if you just want to float to another small town and see things through their eyes...this is the book for you.
CTNooker More than 1 year ago
I found this book easy to read and cleverly written. Each chapter is a short story about a small town as it evolved over the last 260 or so years, illustrating how times change, people change, and how families grow and touch each other's lives.
dragonflyNY More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this collection of tales.
emz911 9 months ago
In my opinion, this novel is more of a fantasy love stories. I’m not the romantic type of person and I don’t really read these kinds of novels, but this one can be an exception. The author’s words are magical; these words weave together stories that would stay with you for long. Since the novel is made up of many different stories, I will just talk about my favorite one. In the chapter, “The Monster of Blackwell”, Matthew is a man who considers himself as a bear. He has “features that didn’t go together; they were misshapen, large and broad, pushing in on his nose, and ears, and mouth. His shoulders were broad and his arms muscular, but he seemed twisted and tended to be hunched.” Kids at school calls him as a mountain, they climb on him, and beat him. But Matthew just stays still and let them when he could easily crushed them. He thinks he is a mountain, alone, and far away. There are always twists in life. And that is when seventeen years old Matthew left the place with bad memories and into the woods. He decides that maybe he isn’t human, and should just be a bear after all. There he met Kate, who is completely different as him. There is nothing in common. Kate is beautiful, the kind of girl where boys followed her home and she turns them down with no interest. Two completely different people fall in love. Just like that. Why? Maybe, for Kate, it is out of curiosity. But I believe, for Matthew, it is because of Kate saying, “He was just a man.” She is the first person who ever considered Matthew as a person, and sometimes, it is the small things that can really touch you. A lonely outcast and a beautiful girl just like all the fantasy stories. But no, there isn’t a “happily ever after”. Kate left for college and that’s it. “He belonged in one world, she in another.”(169) Later on, he saves her and left with a heartbreaking poem. A sad ending in a novel makes readers exclaim, “What a beautiful story.” But a sad ending in real life differs; no one is going to sigh for your tragedy. I think, sometimes people just have to take a step forward. Nothing can be gained by cowering out. If I were Matthew, I wouldn’t watch a woman who “cuts through the field to meet you. Grass in her hair, pollen on her fingers, and your name in her mouth” leave me. Other than a poem of best wishes, I would write a poem for her to stay. If I were Kate, I wouldn’t leave because of pressure. You choose one road, walk it to the end, for what you lose can never be found back again. If you are brave enough, many things that seem hard and untouchable can be easy to reach. It’s just the courage people lack. Withhold your own fate, and never let anything stop you. Should either Kate or Matthew grit their teeth and have the nerves to take a step further, the ending wouldn’t be like this. I don’t like bad endings at all, but I must admit, it takes literature to a more memorable state… I figured many people don't exactly enjoy the format of this book (many different stories in one), but I was actually amused by how the chapters connected with each other. I would definitely want to read more of Alice Hoffman’s books, and you should try too.