Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blackbird House

Yet another book kindly provided by the local library.

Alice Hoffman weaves a tale spread over several hundred year following the inhabitants of a small house on Cape Cod. Blackbird House is home to love and loss. From the first inhabitants, victim to a tragic storm at sea, to an unlikely union between the town witch and a blacksmith, to a family from the city in crisis-- the house seems to be either a blessing or a curse to those who stay there.
Hoffman has made a name for herself playing with a style of writing known as "magical realism" often seen in Spanish language writing in novels such as Like Water for Chocolate and One Hundred Years of Solitude. It's a style that emphasizes little bits of fantasy in the everyday. From the significance of a ghostly white blackbird to a pair of red boots, the symbolism becomes real. Hoffman uses this stylistic move to create a world that is based in real human emotions, but full of magic and possibility. People and things can change their shape and almost be reborn by love.
Unfortunately in the last third of the book, some of this luster starts to fade. It becomes difficult to sustain the magic in more modern settings.
Overall, it is an engaging study of relationships. Some stories are ended without any real conclusion which may prove annoying to readers, but the next story is soon the focal point. It's a very quick read, and since each chapter is almost completely self-contained it's easy to put down and pick up again without feeling lost.
Though not as effective as Here on Earth, fans of Hoffman's style will appreciate this effort from her.

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