Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Intro: The Red Garden

THE BEAR'S HOUSE 
The town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, changed it name in 1786. It had been called Bearsville when it was founded in 1750, but it quickly became apparent that a name such as that did little to encourage new settlers. True, there were nearly as many black bears in the woods then as there were pine trees, but there were also more eel in the river than there were ferns sprouting on the banks. You could stick your hand into the murky green shallows and catch half a dozen of the creatures without using bait. If you ventured waist-high you'd be surrounded in moments. Yet none considered calling the village Eelsville, even though people ate eel pie on a regular basis and many of the men wore eelskin belts and boots. They said wearing eel made them lucky at cards, but when it came to the rest of life, love for instance, they had no luck at all.
The Red Garden
by Alice Hoffman

It's always tricky choosing the December book club selection. Everyone is so busy. That means nothing too long or too "hard", and, since it's the holiday season, nothing too depressing. We finally settled on The Red Garden  and are hoping it meets all the requirements.

The main attraction for me is the structure. A series of connected stories, moving forward over a period of 200 years, provides a history of one small town in the Berkshire mountains.

Here is the goodreads summary:
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.
In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some 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. 
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.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

34 comments:

  1. Yes, I would keep reading, that sounds interesting. I think I will add that to my 2016 reading list.
    Eels would freak me out. I know there are old recipe books with eel pie but it gives me the shivers!

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    1. Tina - Eels give me the shivers, too - yuck!!

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  2. I never read this one and try to read MOST Hoffman novels. I'd read more. Hope your book group enjoys it.

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    1. Diane - I've only read Hoffman's Here On Earth, but it was so long ago that I don't remember a thing!

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  3. I haven't read this one either, but I'd keep going ... mostly because it's Hoffman.

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    1. Beth F - Hoffman has such a great reputation. Not sure why I don't read her more often.

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  4. I'd keep reading...I like the quirkiness of the first paragraph!

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    1. Sarah - Quirky is a good way to describe it!

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  5. I love books made up of interconnected stories! This does sound really good. I like Alice Hoffman's writing, and so would definitely want to read this one.

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    1. Literary Feline - Connected stories have been a favorite of mine ever since Olive Kitteridge!

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  6. The author really grabbed my attention. I'd like to read a 200 year history of a fictional town. I know what you mean about picking a good December book club book. I hope it's a good one for you and your club.

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    1. Margot - We're not a very formal or structured book club. Suggestions are thrown out at the end of each meeting and we come to a consensus on what to read next. This seemed to appeal to everyone, so I'm hoping it's a hit!

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  7. I read this one a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Before I picked it up, however, it sat on my stacks for a couple years. I suspect that the fact of stories spanning 200 years put me off...and in the end, some of them were more enjoyable than others. But the writing, as always, kept me going.

    Enjoy! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - That's always the way it is with stories, isn't it? Whether they are connected or not, some always seem to be stronger and there might be a couple I just don't care for. I am enjoying Hoffman's writing though.

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  8. Do tell if the book shares an eel pie recipe! (just kidding...)

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  9. Oh, yes, keep reading. I really liked this book. It is the only one of hers I've read, and I keep meaning to read more. I have at least one more by her on my shelves, so perhaps in 2016...

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    1. Sharon - I like this so far... especially the piecing together of history!

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  10. This sounds like a fascinating book filled with quirky characters. I like the small town historical setting. But eels? Not so much!
    My Tuesday post features the Rawhide ‘n Roses anthology.

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    1. Sandra - There are definitely some unusual characters here... Johnny Appleseed has even made an appearance!

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  11. Funny, I was just checking out her books on Amazon thanks to a comment on a FB group, but somehow missed this book. I would keep reading.

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    1. Vicki - I had no idea Hoffman has written so many books!

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  12. The structure of this one appeals to me as well. I don't have much brain power left this time of year for complex stories but I like the idea of this one and Hoffman is an author I've been meaning to read.

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    1. Katherine - The structure is what caught my interest, too. Thanks to the stories, it's easy to read in small sections... definitely important at this time of year!

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  13. I love the writing style and actually think the author paints a pretty good portrait of setting. It sounds pretty intriguing, so far. Keep reading.

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    1. Kathy - I'm enjoying it for the most part... a couple of the stories have been a little strange though.

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  14. I think you guys picked the right book with this one. I haven't read it but it sounds perfect as a December read.

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    1. Athira - This seemed to appeal to everyone when we chose it... we'll see what we all think in a couple of weeks.

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    1. I've seen fresh eel just caught. Never wanted to eat it. I've heard of eel pie. Oh my! Anyway, I had this book. Hope I still have it. I love Alice Hoffman.

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    2. Tea - I was familiar with Hoffman, but had never heard of this book. Really enjoying the connected stories.

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  16. I AM DOING AN ACTUAL CHAIR DANCE OF JOY! I love this book HARD and no one ever reads it. LOL

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    1. Andi - I thought I was at least familiar with Hoffman's titles, but had never heard of this before a book club member suggested it. Wonder why that is? Loved the structures of this book!

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