Sunday, August 20, 2006

#3 - Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

Sometimes when I finish a book, I'm really not sure at first whether I liked it or not. I have to ponder the storyline for awhile before I can make up my mind. Blackbird House was one of those books for me. When I read the last page, I just shut the book, put it down, and all I could say was "wow.'' I'm still trying to figure out if I enjoyed the book, or whether it was merely a written attack on my female sense of empathy.

Blackbird House is essentially a book of short stories centered around people living on a small Cape Cod farm over a period of more than 100 years. The book started out as a short story the author wrote for a magazine, and she expanded the work into a novel. Hoffman's prose and story building are superb -- she is a very talented author. But, this book has such a grim tone. All of the families, especially the women and children, that inhabit this farm house have very unhappy lives, or have seemingly unrealistic bad things happen to them. Life is filled with pain and suffering, that is true. But everyone's life also has moments of happiness, but those aren't brought out in this book.

Most characters appear in only one chapter. A few are lucky enough to get more story time. For me, the characters were introduced and hit adversity...and then their story was over, and the book moved on. It felt disjointed and without any resolution or hope for most of them. There was no resolution....just the anticipation of what horrible things could possibly happen to the next set of characters.

So, I guess my final opinion would be that the writing itself was very good, but the overall story tone was just too depressing for me. I do have to applaud Hoffman for a unique approach to story writing in this novel. I'm just not a big fan of books that leave me feeling depressed. I just felt emotionally drained as I read the last page.

Hoffman has written several other novels, including Practical Magic and Turtle Moon. She's also written several children's books.


Blogger Lucy said...

I thought that author sounded familiar. I have the book "Here on Earth" Haven't read it yet though..honestly I don't even know why I have it. Maybe it was an Oprah book...I was trying those out for awhile.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Juli said...

Alice Hoffman must be popular right now. I listed Blackbird House on PBS, and it was snapped up in like 2 hours. lol. Kinda glad to mail it off....depppppressssing!


11:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home