I used to say that Alice Hoffman was one of my favorite authors. “Used to” as in have always, ever since I first fell in love with the book “Practical Magic,” which is SO much better than the movie, which is really damn good it its own right, but for the record, only covers about 1/3 of the content of the book.
Initially in my late teens I read her books with a voracious appetite, and regularly recommend her to others. There are elements of magical realism present, be it ghosts, or people with powers, or just mysterious elements that go unexplained. She writes well, tells stories of whole and flawed characters, love gained, love lost, and pain. Sometimes triumph over said pain, but sometimes only time to heal the wounds, if at all. This book is no different, but somehow it fell flat for me.
Arlyn has just suffered the loss of her father, her whole world, and a wayward traveler finds his way at her door. She, by way of decision or destiny, falls in love with this stranger and thus her life is set, as is the stranger. They are reserved and resolute to their circumstance of being with each other, for better or worse, aaaaand it mostly seems to be worse. Rather than find this story of generations and a fragmented family engaging, I spent most of the time just annoyed that people were clearly unhappy, but reluctant to put a name to it and try anything different.
I feel like Alice is still the same, though saying “still” seems funny as this book was written in 2008; somehow I missed it in my initial dive into her work. But, alas, I just think that maybe the stories aren’t what I have a hankering for any longer. I still will recommend her and like her as an author, but I believe I have moved on to other literary tastes.