Sometimes, a book is just a book. Sometimes, a book is an adventure, an escape, a dream, an other world. Rarely is one book all of these things. So when, a few pages into a book, you realize it’s going to be one of those books, the magical kind that keeps you from sleeping because you just have to read more, you do a little happy dance and sometimes let out a squeal of joy.
The Red Garden is one of those books.
Written by Alice Hoffman, it’s no surprise that it’s a fantastic read.
I had a little moment of doubt when I first started reading. The story starts off with Hallie Brady, a young woman who comes to America and becomes the founder of a new town in the wilderness of Massachusetts. I was so into her story, but after a few pages, it was over. The next chapter was the story of a sad young woman and a man who plants apple trees. Then, a little girl who goes missing.
Soon, I realized that the book was not a person’s story, as a novel usually is. It’s the story of a place. The place is Bearsville, later renamed Blackwell. People come and go, love and cry, hope and dream, live and die. The town grows and some of the earlier stories become legend. Every person leaves their mark on the town, and shapes into a place where magic happens.
Through the stories, we meet an interesting cast of character, including Emily Dickinson and Johnny Appleseed. Some stories are happier than others. There’s a man who’s going blind, but is more of an adventurer than anyone the town has seen since Hallie Brady. There’s the young man who comes home from war broken, only to have his soul healed by a young widow. There’s a young woman who meets a man who lives in the woods, and it changes her forever. My favourite was the fisherman’s wife. Sad, lonely and beautiful, she longs to go back home to be with her one true love. Her home isn’t where you expect it to be.
One of the things I loved the most was how, when a story ended, you might not know what happend to the people later on, but tidbits about their lives would come up in the next chapters, where they were now the current character’s ancestors.
I also love that there is an actual red garden. People don’t know why the earth is red, but you, the reader, know. It like knowing a secret. It feels like being a part of something special, because you’ve been there since the begining.
I finished this book over a week ago, but I haven’t been able to read anything else yet. The collection of episodes, like pieces of a puzzle, are still floating around in my head. I need to read it again, to make even more connections between the people and their stories.
Today is Alice Hoffman’s birthday, and two very awesome bloggers have put together a bloghop where all of her fans could share their love for her enchanting storytelling. Happy birthday, Alice Hoffman, and thank you for sharing your magic!