Browsing the shelves of the library, I found myself face to face with Alice Hoffman’s books. The approach of fall and thoughts of Halloween always bring back to me her work for the mystical, mysterious and fantastical nature of her writing. She draws me in and holds my attention and imagination.
I had missed Blackbird House on previous outings. Published in 2004, this slim, short novel tells the story of a farm near Cape Cod. From the first inhabitants of the home when Massachusetts was controlled by the British in the through modern day. This is the work of a master of her craft weaving tale of the farm’s inhabitants over the decades with interconnected narratives.
Several years ago I read Hoffman’s The Red Garden. I loved the book and recommended it to everyone I knew. The Red Garden in that it tells the history of a town through an interconnected narrative from before people through to modern day. Both books illustrate how temporary individuals are on this earth. And we modern, happening people are not a clever as we might think. Our predecessors lived much fuller and more complicated lives than we imagine. While people tend to make the past seem simpler and with more integrity or moral fortitude, that is not the case. Theft, murder, out of wedlock pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse, mental health issues, fear of change, and discrimination are not new problems. We modern folks think we know so much, but we do not see how much we don’t know. The Red Garden is a far more ambitious than Blackbird House, but both are delightful. I think Blackbird House inspired the fuller, more ambitious The Red Garden.
As a fan of her Practical Magic trilogy, I also found it interesting how a crow was interwoven in Blackbird House.
My parents live on a farm with a house built in 1863. The barn was built before the house. I wish I had the skill and imagination of Allice Hoffman to create a history of the house as the focal point.