Audiobook Review: The Red Garden

Oh Alice Hoffman! What a delight you are!!!

Ever the consummate story-teller Alice Hoffman does it again!  In general, I am not a big fan of short stories but this one was unique. The stories are tied together by one central character– the small town of Blackwell, Massachusetts.

Blackwell is established in 1750 when a group of travelers get stuck in a snowstorm at the base of the high-top Mountain. The group only survives thanks to the quick thinking and the ever resourceful nature of Hallie Brady. Because of this she is forever considered the town’s founder even though it was her charlatan of a husband that brought her there. Her life is celebrated throughout the years at the annual Founder’s Day celebration– a backdrop in more than one of the stories that are told over a span of about 250 years.

What the stories are about run the gamut– some are tragedies; some are comedies; some are magical (well, it IS Alice Hoffman!); some are strange; some start where others finish; some pick up years later; some are historical in nature; some are fantastical; some involve people; some involve animals; but all have as their central theme, love– in some form or another. As you read you begin to recognize family names (The Motts, The Starrs, The Partridges, The Jacobs), the familiar places (The Eel River, The Jack Straw Pub and Grille, Highway 17, The Red Garden, The Founder’s House/Museum) and the Blackwell legends (The Apparition, Johnny Appleseed, Hallie’s Bear, The Mermaid) that make Blackwell so unique, yet, so ordinary.

My favourites were the first one about Hallie Brady, the tall tale of the Fisherman’s Wife and the story of Sarah and Topsie (oh! That one made me BAWL in my car! It reminded me of Greyfriar’s Bobby— a favorite story of my sons when they were little!). This was definitely a quick and enjoyable read 3.5 stars.

(Ps. this audiobook was narrated Nancy Travis, Harriet from So I Married An Axe Murderer! LOVED that movie!)