The Red Garden

6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7¼ hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307877772. $35; 6 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. F
Set in a mythical town tucked deep in the Berkshire Mountains, Hoffman's ( collection of interrelated stories imagines the 300-year history of rural Blackwell, MA, reflecting on the growth of western Massachusetts and the legacy of a resident family. Originally called Bearsville by its settlers, who ended up on the wrong side of a mountain in the snow, Blackwell carries the spirit and mystery of one of its founders, Hallie Brady. Each chapter moves the story through another generation, with the narrative literally grounded by the garden, where only red plants can grow. Hoffman's usual charm and skill at character development are in full force as she pulls off the historical progression. Some chapters are more touching than others, but the plot's logic works well. Actress Nancy Travis is an able reader, playing well with the magic of the prose. Recommended. [The Crown hc received a starred review, LJ 10/1/10; the Broadway pb will publish in August 2011.—Ed.]—Joyce Kessell, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo

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