Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alice Hoffman is Coming!

Sunrise was at 7:36, sunset will be at 5:10. At 7 am the sky is a pure indigo blue, just beginning to announce the day. It is the same color at 6 pm. There is just a clear deep blue, like light coming through stained glass, bookending our days. There are a few extra minutes of light per day and it is finally noticeable. When 4:30 pm comes and goes and it is still daylight, you know it's coming up spring.

Like many people who read a lot, there isn't a lot of time between one book and the next. I finished reading Red Garden, Alice Hoffman's newest (published) book and received her VERY NEXT book in the mail, The Dovekeepers, the same day. That's a good thing because she's coming to the store on FRIDAY! I can't wait! I hope she'll sign all my books-I've been reading her for decades and have been hoarding everything just in case I ever got to meet her! Favorite AH books? White Horses (this was my introduction to AH and is still my all-time favorite book by her) Illumination Night, Practical Magic, Red Garden, and, even though I'm not finished with it, Dovekeepers.

I found myself wandering all over the house reading Red Garden. I read it while on the bike in the living room, and then carried it everywhere, reading over the counter stirring breakfast, draped over the bannister upstairs, putting my pants on, holding the pages down with the blankets putting on my socks. Finished it eating breakfast. Very satisfying, very Alice Hoffman-ish. Very much a loud whisper of a book; I lean in to hear more. I find her books to be powerful in their quietude.

Red Garden is the story of a place and, within that story, the stories of the women of that place. Three hundred years of the history and the making of a small town through the memories and passions of the women who lived there. At the center of the town, and at the center of the book, is a garden where only red plants grow, where even transplanted plants turn red. And at the center of the garden is a secret.

I love her books because of the secrets that the people in her books hold close. They are secrets that change the lives of those who hold them and they can be as simple as a crush or as complex as murder - and I have found a relationship with her characters because I can see their secrets reflected in my own. Her characters are fictional but the actions they take and the passions they feel are very much ours.

I can't wait to get back to Dovekeepers (must read book called Getting Things Done first for a staff book group), a story that takes place in 70 c.e. about a girl whose mother dies while she is being born and so she is ostracized within her family; her father thinks she is cursed. As the Romans destroy Jerusalem, she and her father escape into the desert and she falls in love with a man whose family is traveling with them. It's really good. The language, history and rites of the times are fascinating, and I am anxiously awaiting my return to it. (Dovekeepers will be available in October, '11.)

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