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Blackbird House /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Doubleday, 2004
Edition: First edition.
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SUMMARY

Novelist Hoffman weaves a 200-year-long web of tales, all set in Blackbird House, a small, bewitching farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms and lasts. Young Adult.


Review by Booklist Review

Perhaps Hoffman writes so confidently about magical occurrences because her fecund and radiant creativity is itself a form of magic. It certainly seems as though her entrancing and mythological tales flow like water from a spring, and her new book is no exception, although its form, linked short stories, is a new one for Hoffman. Blackbird House echoes her haunting novel The Probable Future (2003) in its lush and evocative Massachusetts setting, focus on indomitable and witchy women, and spanning of 200 years of life anchored to one place, in this case a humble abode on Cape Cod. Each beautifully arcing and surprising story is presided over by a white blackbird, an emblem of mourning and remembrance, and enacted by stoic yet passionate characters, among them passoinate mothers, a math prodigy, a wily gal with a conspicuous birthmark, a Holocaust survivor, and the angry daughter of self-absorbed hippies. As the stories leapfrog from colonial times toward the present, Hoffman, a subtle conjurer of telling details and ironic predicaments, orchestrates intense romances and profound sacrifices. Those who live in Blackbird House, by turns brilliant, crazy, and courageous, follow their dreams, endure nightmares, and find that their numinous home is as much a part of their being as their parents' DNA. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Prolific novelist Hoffman (The Probable Future; Blue Diary; etc.) offers 12 lush and lilting interconnected stories, all taking place in the same Cape Cod farmhouse over the course of generations. Built during British colonial days by a man who dies tragically on a final fishing trip, Blackbird House is home, in the following generation, to a man who lost his leg to a giant halibut. In the late 19th century, Blackbird inhabitant Violet Cross has a brief affair with a Harvard scholar who inevitably betrays her; in the story that follows, she pushes her son, Lion West, to Harvard in 1908, which in turn launches him to life-and early death-in England. Lion's orphaned son, Lion West Jr., serves in World War II and meets a German-Jewish woman spirited enough to stand up to his possessive grandmother Violet. Hoffman's symbols are lovingly presented and polished: the 10-year-old boy who drowned with his father in the first story sets free a pet blackbird, who returns, now all white, to live with the boy's mother; in the last two stories, a 10-year-old boy blames a white crow for his mischief, and, a generation later, that boy's grown-up sister meets a 10-year-old boy who makes her reconsider selling Blackbird House. Fire, water, milk, pears, halibut-these, too, play important symbolic and sometimes almost magical roles. This may not be the subtlest of literary devices, but Hoffman's lyrical prose weaves an undeniable spell. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Aug. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

This marks a change for Hoffman (The Probable Future), whose fiction often features enigmatic individuals who inject a bit of magic into their quotidian routines. Here 12 linked short stories center on an uncanny setting, an isolated Cape Cod farm that entices and influences a variety of owners and residents from the 18th century to the present. In "The Edge of the World," Blackbird House is constructed by Coral Hadley's husband just before their dreams are literally blown away in a deadly gale. "The Witch of Truro" brings a mentally shattered woman to the farm as the unlikely savior of Lysander Wynn, a former sailor land-bound and bitter after losing his leg to a mammoth halibut. Another monster, albeit imaginary, is the means by which desperate Violet Cross seeks to bind a lover in "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair." Other equally haunted-and haunting-characters populate the tales, which are also notable for their intense sense of place. Hoffman's many fans should welcome this little gem with enthusiasm. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-In this collection of tales, Hoffman takes readers into the lives of the people who lived in Blackbird House from the time of the American Revolution to the present. The house, on a farm on Cape Cod, has a haunting presence throughout the book. In addition to ghost sightings, there are touches of magical realism (a white blackbird, blood-red pears-the color of witchcraft, "crying turnips"). However, it is the characters themselves, their stories and their relationships with others, that are the most compelling. Among them are Violet, a voracious reader, greedy for knowledge and betrayed by the love of her life, whose "fierce love" continues to influence the lives of her son and grandson; Jamie, a boy helping his neighbor deal with the consequences of a secret that everyone has known-and ignored-for years; Emma, a leukemia survivor, wishing to become the person she might have been if she hadn't been so ill as a child. The residents of Blackbird House experience deep sorrow and personal loss, but they also endure due to the power of love. Many of the characters are between the ages of 10 and 30, which will add to the book's appeal for young adults.-Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Alice Hoffman, an American novelist and screenwriter, was born in New York City on March 16, 1952. She earned a B.A. from Adelphi University in 1973 and an M.A. in creative writing from Stanford University in 1975 before publishing her first novel, Property Of, in 1977.

Known for blending realism and fantasy in her fiction, she often creates richly detailed characters who live on society's margins and places them in extraordinary situations as she did with At Risk, her 1988 novel about the AIDS crisis. Her other works include The Drowning Season, Seventh Heaven, The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen, and The Dovekeepers. Her book, The Third Angel, won the 2008 New England Booksellers' Award for fiction. Two of her novels, Practical Magic and Aquamarine, were made into films. She has also written numerous screenplays, including adaptations of her own novels and the original screenplay, Independence Day. Her title's The Museum of Exteaordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, Seventh Heaven, and The Rules of Magic made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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