Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Julie's Review: Blue Diary

Summary: Hoffman writes from on high, a storytelling goddess who drenches the earth with flower-opening sunshine one day, only to bring on the most abysmal gloom the next. She enchants and she riles, and her powers are extraordinary, although the overture to her fourteenth novel is awfully sweet. Ethan and Jorie, gorgeous and madly in love after 13 years of marriage, are just too horribly perfect. Ethan is a carpenter, baseball coach, and volunteer fireman. Jorie is a homemaker and a gifted gardener, and their 12-year-old son, Collie, is handsome and good. It's enough to make you puke, and that's exactly Hoffman's intention because this is a make-believe life that has run its course. The girl-next-door, the younger, funny-looking one named Kat, not her exquisite and coldhearted sister Rosarie, misses her father, who committed suicide, and has never trusted Collie's, so when she recognizes an old photograph of Ethan shown on a most-wanted TV show, she makes the fateful call and then watches in shock while her neighbors' lives collapse like a house that looks fine from the outside but has been consumed by termites until it's no more than a shell. Nothing will ever be the same for the denizens of Monroe, Massachusetts, after Ethan is arrested for the long-unsolved murder of a 15-year-old Maryland girl. Many rally to his cause; Kat and Collie grow up too fast; Jorie's best friend copes with breast cancer; and Jorie, devastated but lucid, realizes that she must learn the truth whatever the cost. This canny tale of abrupt reversals and courageous, unpopular choices is as suspenseful as it is lyrical and provocative.

Review: Every time I pick up an Alice Hoffman book I remember how much I love her writing and berate myself for not reading her more often. There is something dream-like and magical in the way she tells her stories. Blue Diary tells the story of Jorie and Ethan Ford, who have to be the world's most perfect couple. So in love with each other that everyone in their right mind is envious but not jealous. Of course, not everything is as it seems for Ethan. You see he has a mysterious past that comes back to pay a visit one beautiful morning shortly after making love with his wife.

You see Ethan did something horrific when he was someone else. The story isn't about what Ethan did or how it affects him it's about the path of destruction this causes on those in Monroe, Mass. It's not only about the obvious effects on his beloved wife, his sweet son but also those who thought they knew Ethan well.

Ethan Ford is a man who has for 13 years, hidden his true self. Throughout the course of the book I feel that he slowly begins to reveal himself through his treatment of Rosarie Williams. Ethan Ford is a user; a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The only subplot I might have enjoyed being explored more is the friendship between Charlotte and Jorie. What made their friendship work since pre-school? What is it that kept them loyal towards each other?

The book obviously weaves the question, how well do we know the ones we love? It isn't a new theme in novels but it is one that Ms. Hoffman does so well and writes so beautifully. Each character is rich in personality and description. Another thing she does well (same with Jodi Picoult) is describe small town life and how everyone knows each other and intimately even if the other person isn't aware.

Final Take: 4.5/5



Phantom Paragrapher February 27, 2011 at 11:43 PM  

I loved this book :) Im a new follower
Cheers, Paula

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