Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman


“Nestled in Blackbird House, a small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod, John Hadley dreams that his family will prosper. Over the course of two centuries, many will call this place their home, each linked by the past left between its walls. There is Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books – and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything, and Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of love until it is too late. From the late eighteenth century to the modern day, each generation is connected to the ones before – and to the underlying lessons of love, shattering secrets, and the enduring power of hearth and home.”

-Synopsis from back of the book


Cover of Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
Cover image from StoryGraph

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman was an incredible book! While this is only my second book of hers, I am already enamored with her writing style and storytelling style. I had no idea what to expect with this one but was eager to read it.

I listened to most of it on audiobook on Libby through my library, and read the rest on a physical copy. The chapters are divided up by interesting titles, and each centers on at least one person who lived in Blackbird House or has some connection. Their stories span the course of history, starting with the 1700s and going into the present day.

Each chapter was like a short story. There were many moments when I was surprised or shocked by certain events, and also smiling at happier moments. The writing absolutely carried me away and was so absorbing that I felt like I was there with each character as they experience turning points in their lives.

Of course, some of the characters were misunderstood by their town and said to be witches, which I’ve heard is often a theme in Alice Hoffman’s books.

“Witches take their names from places, for places are what give them strength. The place need not be beautiful, or habitable, or even green. Sand and salt, so much the better. Scrub pine, plumbery, and brambles, better still. From every bitter thing, after all, something hardy will surely grow. From every difficulty, the seed that’s sewn is that much strong.”

Alice Hoffman, “The Witch of Truro” from Blackbird House

Coral, Violet, and Emma were probably my favorite characters.

I’m glad I checked out the physical copy at the library because it included an afterward in which Alice Hoffman discusses how the book came to be and her experiences writing it.

Of the inspiration for Blackbird House she says:

“I have an old farm out on Cape Cod. It was very rundown when we bought it, and there were rumors that it was haunted. On my first visit, I noticed a woman, a ghost, in the parlor. Then I looked more closely and discovered it was a mirror and that the woman was me. I knew then it was my house. As we were fixing it up, owners and renters from the past visited. They had all loved the house in their time, and I began to have a sense of how many lives had been lived in the rooms we now lived in.”

Alice Hoffman, in interview with author Jennifer Morgan Gray

I am so glad that I decided to read this book. Above all it was a pleasant reading experience and I know that I will be thinking about the stories for a long time. I can’t wait to read more of Alice Hoffman’s books this year.

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