January has been Conquered!

So, guys. Totes late today but I still showed up.

January seems to have reserved it’s worst for the end as we get peppered with a snowstorm to open February and it’s bitter cold, which is not what my first winter ever chickens would prefer. But it can do what it wants. I have my second shot this week and anything is better than January.

Except this is my last post in the Alice Hoffman series! Full disclosure, I have one audiobook I didn’t make it to. I am working on a Feb read that I need all my audio goodness for getting through. You’ll see what it is but I’m not sure if you’ll really be impressed.

White Horses, Alice Hoffman

I’m actually stumbling around how to describe the plot of this book that is pretty plotless.  It’s a family that essentially falls apart, scattering to the wind.  It’s about women who romanticize inaccessible, damaged and selfish men to their own detriment before they realize that kindness is better, or that in the end they can save themselves. It’s a lot about selfishness. Selfish and helpless characters who seem aimless at times, and you waver on how much you like them. The main characters, or the two still standing at the end, are a woman, Teresa, and her brother, Silver. Teresa has a sleeping disorder where she sleeps for endless hours as a stress response, and most of the book when she’s awake she is either allowing men to do what they want with her or pining after her brother, Silver.  She does find her way, which is redeeming.

This is not to say that I didn’t like this book.  I love all the different places her books take me, this time the Pacific Northwest and the desert/American West, with her descriptions of the heat, and the atmosphere, the colors and smells of it all. The women in this book find their way back to themselves after losing themselves in dreams and men and the feminist I am loves that, and she finds ways to keep me interested in her often half appealing characters. I have never been one to fall for the golden, unattainable man just because of an enigmatic draw that is misinterpreted as romance, and this book is a lot about the unattainable, as well as a level of dysfunction her other novels do not share.  This one was darker and more unexpected from my Alice Hoffman binge reading, and looking at Goodreads, others of her fans were not entirely thrilled with it either.  Some were swept along, like her writing does to me, and others just couldn’t stomach it.  

The Story Sisters, Alice Hoffman

Three sisters meet different fates, coming together and falling apart, on the pages of this novel.  The eldest sister Elv spirals into drug abuse following a trauma she can’t talk about, pulling apart her mother and other two sisters. They all feel responsible for terrible things that happen to each other and do find themselves at the end, each in their own way.

Another one that is hard to really describe an actual plot, although things happen, and everyone is affected by what happens to others.  This one is later than the ones of hers I’ve been reading, and the magical elements are definitely in this one, and I like the way it adds to the stories.  I also liked how this one had a more clear reason why Elv spiraled off the way she did.  Sometimes I have felt that Hoffman’s teen girls in her earlier books are rebellious just because, not because of anything that happened to them that they are struggling with.  I mean, many of those girls are merely ones who have a lot of casual sex, but the oldest sister here gets into drugs, which is a whole other animal. Trauma is heaped on with a rehab program where she meets a guy who gets her into harder stuff.   But she was more damaged than a spoiled brat, like some of Hoffman’s early teen girls are. Like, I have considered reading her very first novel, Property Of, but I think it’s more the rebellious teen girl thing and because I have read so many of her novels in succession I’m over that trope. 

I read this one right after White Horses and there are some similarities between these stories and some similar elements to her older ones.  In both books, the mom’s heart is saved following a failed marriage by a private detective in half retirement who falls in love with them and carries the family forward even after the mother dies early from cancer, and takes care of her kids as a paternal figure.  There is much gardening, and the cycle of seasons, early mother deaths, dads who leave, headstrong daughters escaping their mothers. I liked how she wrote Elv’s boyfriend, and how the surprises about him were not what you expected and you found yourself liking him.  Usually I can’t stand all her selfish bad boys and I love her steady loving paternal good guys, but this guy was kind of both, and I found myself pleasantly surprised and intrigued by him.  So this one kind of broke away from her earlier novels in certain ways, even if it held very much the same in others.  She still made most everyone okay and she paints such magical imagery so she always wins.

Beautiful Alice to get me through the snowy dark winter. So grateful for her and her lovely writing career. I’m open to reading more of her backlist at some point, and that one audiobook I didn’t make it to. I’m certainly not done with enjoying her work.

Also, new author site is not off the ground. At all. I paid for the final copy and proofing and all the graphic artistry it will need and I’m beginning my collaboration with those professionals. And some magnet stuff. I’ll at least have a domain when this blog expires in six weeks. It’s exciting to feel tangible progress on getting it into the world and building my own empire. I will have a blog on there too.

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