The Red Garden

The Red Garden

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The Red Garden introduces us to the luminous and haunting world of Blackwell, Massachusetts, capturing the unexpected turns in its history and in our own lives.
     In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters' lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.
     From the town's founder, a brave young woman from England who has no fear of blizzards or bears, to the young man who runs away to New York City with only his dog for company, the characters in The Red Garden are extraordinary and vivid: a young wounded Civil War soldier who is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman who meets a fiercely human historical character, a poet who falls in love with a blind man, a mysterious traveler who comes to town in the year when summer never arrives.
     At the center of everyone's life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.
     Beautifully crafted, shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.
Publisher: New York : Crown, c2011
ISBN: 9780307393876
Branch Call Number: FIC Hoff
Characteristics: 270 p. ; 24 cm
Contents: Bear's house
Nights of love
Year there was no summer
Owl and mouse
River at home
Truth about my mother
Principles of devotion
Fisherman's wife
Kiss and tell
Monster of Blackwell
Black rabbit
Red Garden
King of the bees


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 06, 2018

For 200 years, Blackwell, Massachusetts has had a mysterious garden where only red flowers grow.

Jun 20, 2016

Very fast read. I loved it, but have yet to read an Alice Hoffman title that I didn't like. I loved how the short stories wove all together and told a story. Great read.

Feb 15, 2016

Liked the main characters and the way the characters linked together through the telling of the history of the little town. A collection of short stories but linked together by the location and the stories of the founding families.

Jun 06, 2015

How she fit a whole towns worth of information into this 270 page novel I have no clue. Upon finishing this book, though, I felt like I knew it from beginning 1700's to present day (1980's-90's?). Which is a lot of information. The stories because they did feel like short stories even though they all tied into one another. Were very endearing. Glad I picked this book up.

dollfacecrafter Oct 11, 2013

this is classic Alice Hoffman, magical and wonderful stories! this was a very fast read, hard to put down. loved it.

Aug 01, 2012

A beautifully written book that spans centuries. The story of a town, and the extremely varied people that live there, this is more a series of interconnected short stories than a traditional novel. Each story is engrossing and poetic.

Mar 15, 2012

I felt a lack of closure in the ending - perhaps because I never wanted it to end. Fantastically written, the stories of all families in town are well interwoven.

Jan 30, 2012

For Jean

Jan 26, 2012

Great Read - I couldn't put it down.

Oct 10, 2011

This is one of my new favourites. A portrait of a small town over a period of 300 years. The haunting stories can fill you with longing. As always with Hoffman, the writing is slightly magical and the prose is perfect.

View All Comments


Add a Summary
DanniOcean Feb 22, 2011

Alice Hoffman is known for her character-driven stories that have elements of ‘magic realism’ – her characters might know what you dream, have an unnaturally hot touch, or might see how you will eventually die. In The Red Garden, the character that is mystical is actually the town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, and the founding families who have dwelt there through generations. The novel is actually a series of short stories each revolving around the town, in different periods. The first is set in 1750, the year the town was a settlement and 17-year old Hallie Brady saved the settlers from starving during the winter. She named the field Dead Husband’s Meadow, and protected the bears on Hightop Mountain. Such are the ways local legends are born. The next ‘chapter’ is set in 1792, a generation later, when a mystical man named John Chapman came to town, and planted an apple orchard – a variety that became known as the Blackwell Look-No-Further, it was so delicious. He camped in a part of town called Husband’s Meadow and loved all of nature. He also left behind a baby, the great-grandchild of Hallie, and a distinct love of nature that subsequent generations would inherit. And so it goes: Husband's Meadow becomes Band's Meadow, the descendants of Blackwell's settlers find love, loss, ghosts and belonging, and become legends to their own descendants. This novel, similar to Hoffman's Blackbird House, is a gem for readers who like tracing genealogy, or witnessing a town's historical microcosm develop, grow and change throughout time. Blackwell cannot isolate itself from world events, the Civil War, and World Wars touch it's citizen's lives, but the town below Hightop Mountain survives; the black eels in the river and black bears on the mountain sustaining, protecting and teaching each generation - in its own context - about life.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PLYMC

To Top