Alice Hoffman finds the part of us that feels the world instinctively, and brings it into kinship with every aspect of the physical world. Transported by her language of flora and fauna, we arrive in a spiritual world where physics and spirit cannot be separated.
Less magical than its predecessors, The Red Garden is for that reason more enthralling. Hoffman has, at times, taken the magical bit a bit too far. But here, as in The Story Sisters, she carries us on the back of bears and the wings of bees into reality, raw and subtle at the same time.
Each chapter is a story unto itself, and could stand alone in a collection of short stories. Yet there are threads woven throughout, linking the generations of inhabitants in one small Massachusetts town from one end of 300 years to the other. And it is in these links, disguised as mere folklore or gossip or impossible legend, that meaning is found.
If you are an Alice Hoffman fan, you will love this book. If you have liked some of her work and been disappointed by some, you will love this book. If you have not read Alice Hoffman, this is as good a place as any to begin your devotion.