Friday, January 30, 2009

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this book. Alice Hoffman is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I was so immersed in the reading that I didn't want to take the time to stop and take notes or even mark favorite passages. So, I know I won't even be able to come close to doing the book justice. Hopefully, my profuse gushing will be enough to entice you to read it. Then again, it may simply want to make you scream. Blackbird house is a book of connected short stories. But instead of being connected by a particular character or characters, these stories are connected over a couple hundred years by a house.

The house is located in the remote reaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The house truly seems to be another character in the stories, sometimes the main character. For some, it is a dream come true. For others, it is a refuge. For still others, it is a place to hide. Of course, I liked some stories more than others, but I can honestly say that there is not one story that I didn't like, which is rare for me. As with most all of Hoffman's books, there is an element of magical realism. Sometimes this element doesn't always work for me, but Hoffman makes it work every single time. I never question it. Again, as with a lot of her writing, there is often a darkness to the stories in this collection.

The Witch of Truro is probably my favorite story. It's about Ruth, a young woman, who lives alone after her mother and father die of smallpox. Tragedy finds her again when her house burns down and she's left with literally nothing but her milk cows. She takes to living right on the beach until the women of the small town can stand it no longer. They put a plan into action. They begin by bringing her food and befriending her. After a while, they convince her to be the cook for Lysander Wynn who survived a storm at sea years earlier. Both Ruth and Lysander have been beaten up by life and are pretty much loners who end up finding some comfort from each other.

Everything that happens to these families in Blackbird House over the years makes me wish that I lived in an older home. I would love to think about the people who lived there before me. However, we built our house, so I can only hope that hundreds of years from now, someone may think about the original inhabitants of their home and wonder what our life was like.

10 comments:

Nymeth said...

This sounds SO good! I kind of want to make it my next Hoffman, but I guess I should read the ones on my tbr shelf. Sigh :P

Sarah said...

I read and was really impressed by Blue Diary by Alice Hoffmann years ago. I've been meaning to read more by her, so will look out for this.

Lisa said...

nymeth, I know what you mean. Everytime I read a review, I want to get my hands on the book when I have piles sitting here in front of me.

sarah, I haven't read Blue Diary. In fact, I haven't even heard of it. I'll definitely have to look for this one.

Danielle said...

I liked this one as well. I loved how the stories were interrelated and all revolved around the house!

Iliana said...

Ok, this is going on my TBR list. I've only read one Hoffman book and I didn't like it but that was a long time ago and I think I need to revisit this author and see. I mean, so many of her books do sound interesting!

Lisa said...

danielle, I loved the idea of the house as almost a character. She's such a good author.

iliana, I haven't read a ton of her books, but the ones I've read I've liked. I'm not sure I would have liked them ten years ago though.

Andi said...

*happy dance* I'm so glad you loved this one as much as I did. I don't own a copy, but it's one I need to add to my permanent shelves and re-read.

Lisa said...

andi, I did soooo love this one. She is a brilliant writer.

BooksPlease said...

I'm catching up reading blogs and came across this one today. Blackbird House is one of the books I picked up from the library last week because I liked the look of it - now I must read it!

Lisa said...

booksplease, I don't think you'll be disapponited.