Sunday, October 9, 2011

"From every bitter thing, after all, something hardy will surely grow. From every difficulty, the seed that’s sewn is that much stronger."

Blackbird House – Alice Hoffman

238 pages

Genre:  Magical Realism; Historical Fiction; Contemporary

Summary:  Told in a series of short stories, Blackbird House chronicles the lives of families and individuals who lived in a small farmhouse on Cape Cod over the course of many years.

Review:  This book didn’t grab my attention from the very beginning, so I ended up setting it aside for quite a few weeks.  Today I decided to give it another go, was completely hooked, and eagerly devoured the rest of it in one sitting.

Blackbird House is a wonderful tale that combines magic, romance, grief, and heartache into one beautiful, literary package.  The language throughout is quite lyrical, and the stories within will stick with me for quite some time. 

I don’t normally enjoy reading short stories all that much, but with this book, it worked perfectly and wouldn’t have been as good had it been told in a different way.  The reader wasn’t able to follow the characters throughout the course of their lives, but rather, just when they were connected to the house, and that was enough.  The white blackbird’s constant reappearance, as well as the repetition of the number 24, left the reader with the ominous knowledge that bad things were to come, and even though one knew they were coming, one still wanted to see what would happen next.

The characters themselves were incredibly well done, which is quite a feat since the reader didn’t have much time to get to know them.  Hoffman got right to the character inner cores and exposed it to the readers, and it was, in turn, rather heartbreaking when things ended badly for them.

While it was a rather short book, Blackbird House packed a punch and was an exceptionally worthy effort.  If you enjoy literary fiction that looks at the same place over an extended period of time, definitely give this book a try.  I can’t wait to read more by Alice Hoffman.

Rating: 4/5

Read-alikes:  Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen; The Mercy of Thin Air – Ronlyn Domingue


  1. I love magical realism! Glad you liked this one, as I also own a copy.

  2. I loved this book! Did I tell you that it inspired my senior thesis in undergrad? I wrote a collection/book of short stories that were all interconnected like this (but by a train). Some of Hoffman's stuff gets too strange for me, but overall I tend to love her books.

  3. Ahhh, that's so cool, Nori! I remember you telling me about that story, but I had no idea it was your thesis. How awesome!