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Extended Audio Sample The Red Garden Audiobook, by Alice Hoffman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 53.66 out of 5 3.66 (41 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alice Hoffman Narrator: Nancy Travis Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2011 ISBN: 9780307877765
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In exquisite prose, New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with three hundred years of passion, secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters’ lives are intertwined by fate.  

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; and 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The novel moves forward in linked stories, each building on (but not following from) the previous and focusing on a wide range of chracters....The result is a certain ethereal detachment as Hoffman’s deft magical realism ties one woman’s story to the next even when they themselves are not aware of the connection. The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion. Publishers Weekly


  • “Hoffman makes the magic she writes about feel so real, as though I could at any moment, find myself in the town of Blackwell and the mysterious garden that bears only red fruit.”

    Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

  • An absorbing portrait of a town, told through its unforgettable people….masterful. People, four stars
  • [A] dreamy, fabulist series of connected stories . . . These . . . tales, with their tight, soft focus on America, cast their own spell. The Washington Post
  • Hoffman’s writing is so beautiful it’s almost painful to read….Hoffman makes the magic she writes about feel so real, as though I could at any moment, find myself in the town of Blackwell and the mysterious garden that bears only red fruit. Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters

    “The Red Garden is recommended to readers who enjoy, in addition to beautiful prose, magical realism and different narrators over time. . . . Alice Hoffman is an author not to be missed.
  • "Alice Hoffman, herself a shining star among American novelists, possesses the stunning ability to express the numinous in the most prosaic language. Somehow, without elaborate wordplay, she manages to communicate a yearning interpretation of the life we all live, opening the reader’s eyes to the otherworldly riddles that make things appear just a trifle askew—when we notice them, that is. And Alice Hoffman certainly notices them. One secret of her ongoing appeal, year after year, book after book, is her keen perception. And in The Red Garden, Hoffman delivers a body of stories that explores the depths of reality as well as its enduring quirkiness. Book Page
  • In gloriously sensuous, suspenseful, mystical, tragic, and redemptive episodes, Hoffman subtly alters her language, from an almost biblical voice to increasingly nuanced and intricate prose reflecting the burgeoning social and psychological complexities her passionate and searching characters face in an ever-changing world. Booklist, starred review
  • Hoffman has done it again, crafting a poignant, compelling collection of fairy tales suffused with pathos and brightened by flashes of magic. Her fans, as well as those of magical realism in general, will be enchanted. Library Journal, starred review
  • Fans of Hoffman’s brand of mystical whimsy will find this paean to New England one of her most satisfying. Kirkus Review
  • “Hoffman’s characters are always moving back and forth, challenging our perceptions, daring us to judge them.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An absorbing portrait of a town, told through its unforgettable people.…Masterful.”

    People

  • “Full of magic and grit and tragedy…Each episode is a marvel…painful and exquisite.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “[A] dreamy, fabulist series of connected stories…These…tales, with their tight, soft focus on America, cast their own spell.”

    Washington Post

  • “The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Hoffman has done it again, crafting a poignant, compelling collection of fairy tales suffused with pathos and brightened by flashes of magic. Her fans, as well as those of magical realism in general, will be enchanted.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “In gloriously sensuous, suspenseful, mystical, tragic, and redemptive episodes, Hoffman subtly alters her language…reflecting the burgeoning social and psychological complexities her passionate and searching characters face in an ever-changing world.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Fans of Hoffman’s brand of mystical whimsy will find this paean to New England one of her most satisfying.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the February 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy Weir | 2/11/2014

    " This book just popped into my order by accident and with no warning for the the difficult days between it's order and delivery.... A one year check-up that went horribly wrong... hospital, forced coma .. ICU and finally back to regular hospital for two weeks. Exhausted and not even able to say WHAT went so wrong.. this book was here for me when I got home. And here for me during the next few days of healing and searching. The stories are magical (probably) but delivered with the friction of the finest weave of silk... The best medicine for me... Thank you for the enchantment! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darci | 2/8/2014

    " This was good- it was neat to see all the stories entwined. (And FYI Towards the end language/incidents get kind of rough.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy Spencer | 1/10/2014

    " I would probably give this book a 7 on a scale of 1-10. I am not a fan of short stories, but the connection between these made it definitely worthwhile. I liked the sense of place that came thru; could have even been more in my opinion. But overall a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie Fingal | 1/8/2014

    " I have been a reader of her books since she started writing. She always weaves a magical element into her books. This one traced the history of a town and it's people. A little quirky, fun and sometimes sad. In some places it felt a little dis-jointed. I would have loved to have seen a family tree at the end of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ctb | 12/30/2013

    " First off: this is a collection of short stories that intertwine: confusing but in the end WHAM...very cool. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marla Mutch | 12/27/2013

    " This was a great book. It is sort of a series of short stories, all happening in the same place, but with different characters through out time. And yet, it was a book I didn't want to put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shelley | 12/15/2013

    " Alice Hoffman weaves a tale of middle Massachusetts from Colonial days referencing history and folklore such as the Deerfield attacks and Johnny Appleseed to present. Her characters flow through time and their stories are all intertwined. The chapters are like short stories. Some I liked better than others. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Camille | 12/14/2013

    " Excellent assortment of stories connected by their setting. Each story was interesting and held my attention. I was left wanting more. Alice Hoffman is magical. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julia Reed | 12/4/2013

    " Had high hopes for this one, but could not get interested in it. May try again later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cris | 10/4/2013

    " I was disappointed in this book. Just about the time you got to know a character, the story jumped ahead a generation or two. It just seemed like a parade of odd characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lee | 10/4/2013

    " it was okay. although I enjoyed the magical realism style and most of the stories, I felt it was a long way to go for a medicore ending. I also constantly wished for a family tree illustration. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 False Millennium | 9/30/2013

    " I've never read any of Hoffman's work before. I won't bother again. Linked personal histories in a Western Massachusetts town from the 1700's to the present; each chapter being a different era. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Richards | 9/20/2013

    " Hoffman has such a wonderful talent for spinning a tale through generations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcy Heller | 7/26/2013

    " Alice Hoffman has never been in my repertoire of books, but after reading The Red Garden, I'm looking forward to more of her writing. I particularly liked the layering of successive generations in the same place. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miss | 7/14/2013

    " Listened to the audio book version -- absorbing and moving tales. Kinda wish a few were a little less tragic...but there you have it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheila Guevin | 3/6/2013

    " Alice Hoffman never fails to tell an twisting story of relationships. Here an entire town emerges in history and works its way generation by generation to the present through the residents. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tamlyn | 2/20/2013

    " Not at all what I was expecting. It read like a series of short stories, which I'm not a huge fan of. Plus I could not keep the characters straight from timeframe to timeframe. But some of the individual chapters were good. I just like a bit more dialog in my books, so this one was tough for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janine | 1/20/2013

    " I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did... a surprise unfolded at the turn of every page. Her prose is something special. I was lost in the world of so many different vivid characters. clever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Noel | 1/5/2013

    " Stories about requitted and unrequitted love with unusual characters and twists. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Morrison | 12/18/2012

    " Hard for me to get into at first but once I started I couldn't put it down. Interesting way it was written and connecting the history of the town and the people. But didn't really have an ending I guess. Different book & a pretty good one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamiedwan | 11/8/2012

    " I am a big fan of Alice Hoffman. I have read all of her books. This was not one of her best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheila Cottrill | 7/20/2012

    " was alittle fragmented but i have come to love her books.. anxious to start another "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean Kelly | 4/27/2012

    " A story of the lives of characters in Blackwell. While it held my interest there was something less than real about these folks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shay | 4/23/2012

    " Really liked this one. Thought about the characters long after their chapters were over. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Slone | 11/7/2011

    " A series of related stories about a Massachusetts town and its founders. I really liked the differences among the lead characters; each one was distinct. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 10/6/2011

    " Not nearly as strong as the author's "The Dovekeepers," but still a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacy | 7/16/2011

    " I have yet to be disappointed with a book by Alice Hoffman. I kept wanting to read this book to find out what was coming next. I liked how she linked all the people in the stories together. Would highly recommend! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna Kass | 7/2/2011

    " Although these are short stories, they all happen in this one town, to this one family. A beautiful book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 6/28/2011

    " How can you go wrong with black eels and black bears? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Norma | 6/26/2011

    " Almost as good as Hoffman's "Blackbird House." Think magical realism as the genre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachelle | 6/26/2011

    " I loved this book - the intertwining history of the women - kept me thinking "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 6/26/2011

    " I really liked this book. I wanted to hear more stories about the people of Blackwell. This book also inspired me to get together with my grandparents and document their history, stories, and family tree. I am really interested in family history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mellissa | 6/25/2011

    " Hmmm what to say??? Seemed disconnected? No real story not very interesting. Lost interest. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 6/23/2011

    " Wow, I loved reading this book. I enjoyed the stories that passed through many generations all in the same town. Alic Hoffman, you are an amazing writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 6/21/2011

    " I'm not a fan of short stories, and this book had that flavor. Much like her previous book, The Blackbird House, an inanimate object was the main character, with humans and animals playing supporting roles. Of all the Alice Hoffman books I have read, this is probably my least favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lacey | 6/19/2011

    " The Red Garden was hard to start but eventually each chapter is its own story, linked together by characters and progressing in years...pretty good concept. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lois | 6/18/2011

    " It's rare for me to say I just 'liked it' about an Alice Hoffman book.
    But the episodic nature of this book with little compelling as an overarcing story made it an oddly unaffecting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 6/18/2011

    " Each chapter builds on previous characters and their family from years past. It starts with 3 couples leaving a large city to "Go West". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Virginia | 6/17/2011

    " Typical Alice except as short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Em | 6/16/2011

    " Beautiful. Haunting. Redemptive. Another Alice Hoffman book I'll highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 6/16/2011

    " short stories as novel, history of decades, lifetime spans, living and the dead, ghost girl, bear lovers, mystery gardens, Alice Hoffman at her magical weave again, terrific. "

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About the Author
Author Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her short fiction and nonfiction works have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and others. Her novel Practical Magic was made into a major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; her young adult novel Aquamarine was made into a movie in 2006.

About the Narrator

Nancy Travis is an actress who is best known for her roles in feature films such as Three Men and a Baby, Three Men and a Little Lady, Greedy, and Fluke. She currently stars as Vanessa Baxter in the ABC television series Last Man Standing.