Fiction Book Club The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman Buy book: $15.72
By turns chilling and enchanting "The Probable Future" chronicles the Sparrows's legacy as young Stella struggles to cope with her disturbing clairvoyance. Culminating in an exquisite ending, this story showcases the lavish literary gifts that have made Hoffman one of America's most treasured writers.
Not sure about this one yet. The opening is interesting but not a grabber ... I liked the lemon pudding curdling, liked the mother-daughter bond. Felt too hit over the head about how this baby is going to be different, unpredictable.
Is anyone besides me getting tired of novels set in the northeast?!
I was initially completely turned off by the jacket blurb of this selection. Just not the kind of book that I find interesting. But, as many of you know by now, I'll give just about anything a try. The writing is good, great descriptions, etc. I'll hang in for the week.
And I, too, noticed: yet another novel set in the northeast. We did visit Louisiana in Madame X, but there does seem to be a trend in location.
Well this one's a keeper for sure...I love all these Northeast novels! And perfect timing for this one...all of us are waiting for signs of spring when in our hearts we know we've got another whole month to get through!
Please keep reading. I recently read this book and loved it! I know your tastes may not be the same as mine but please give The Probable Future a chance. Of course, I'm a big fan of Alice Hoffman so I may not be that objective :-)
I have only read one other Alice Hoffman novel - Practical Magic. I read it before the movie was released which is good - because after seeing that I would have never bothered. She has a beautiful style, and sometimes that obscures the lack of powerful storyline. Give it a shot.
The first few paragraphs had me putting my cursor over the delete button... BUT then I read this paragraph
"The infant's first cries weren't heard until she was tucked into a flannel bunting; then little yelps echoed from her tiny mouth, as though she were a cat caught in a puddle. The baby was easily soothed, just a pat or two on the back from the doctor, but it was too late: her cries had gone right through Jenny, a hook piercing through blood and bones. Jenny Sparrow Avery was no longer aware of her husband, or the nurses with whom he was flirting. She didn't care about the blood on the floor or the trembling in her legs or even the Milky Way above them in the sky. Her eyes were filled with dizzying circles of light, little pinpricks that glimmered inside her eyelids. It wasn't starlight, but something else entirely. Something she couldn't comprehend until the doctor handed her the child, the damaged left shoulder taped up with white adhesive as though it were a broken wing. Jenny gazed into her child's calm face. In that instant she experienced complete devotion. Then and there, on the fifth floor of Brigham and Women's Hospital, she understood what it meant to be blinded by love."
and I was hooked! Despite the wordiness, I think I like this one! I can't wait until tomorrow :)
I had such high hopes for this story. But I guess today I am disappointed. I felt the author jumped around a lot between the town, Boston, Avery, her mother without really exploring any of them closely.
I wanted to know more about the baby early on and her family.
Hi. I just joined the reading group and this is my first novel - unsure about the novel, although I am definitely impressed with the author's ability to paint a picture with words. I love reading this way! What a wonderful way to be introduced to books. Thank you.
To be honest, I am tired of books set in the Northeast and mother/daughter or family stories. Maybe it is because I am young, travel a lot, have a independent career and have no desire to have children (at least not yet), but I would like to read something a little different. I have never been interested in Hoffman before and so far, my mind has not been radically changed.
I read this book last year and loved it (but I am a big Alice Hoffman fan also). If you like this book at all after reading this weeks installments, get it and read the whole thing, you'll be glad you did! I also agree with Kelly about the movie "Practical Magic," I was so excited they were making an Alice Hoffman book into a movie, but I was so disappointed after I saw it!
I just heard the amazing interview with Alice on NPR, and nearly fell over when she said she has just learned to KNIT. I've been a fan, but now, well, as a lifelong knitter, this just MEANS I must run right out and get the latest book!
I like the descriptivness of this novel. As I read the part when Stella was being born I thought to myself, "wow what would this sequence be like on the big screen!" with the images of the Milky way and Stella as sort of a shining beacon for Jenny.
The simile of the Cake house to a quilt I thought was an interesting way to get an image into the readers mind also
This novel has interesting parallels to Rushdie's "Midnight's Children". Both authors write about children having special abilities due to the situation they were born into, and both pleace a great deal of importance on timing - in The Probable Future, March seems to hold a particular significance, while in Midnight's Children, personal events coincide with historical events, as well as the importance of the midnight hour.
Today's chapter read very quickly. It left me with wanting to read more. Some of my questions of Jenny's early childhood were answered, and I felt the author drew me in. I want to keep reading more to find out about them....
I'm reading along and it's interesting enough, but I'm just not drawn in. I feel like I'm floating on the perimeter of the story, distanced from it. I've just read (part of) one other Hoffman novel, "Here on Earth," and wonder if I put that one aside years ago for the same reason. I like to feel right in the characters' minds and action (and there's only been narration, not action, in the last couple days' installments), like to put things together and figure them out for myself rather than being told everything. So I'll probably finish the week but not look for the book.
That takes art to describe things the way Hoffman does. I find that the grind of work really dulls your imagination, but a book like this can really set you to conjuring all the images described.
I am glad that the story is not completely laid out in the first few installments, this is not an essay. I want to know more...ie. What happened with the suicide? Numerous questions pop into my mind and I am willing to invest the time to let the author unravel the story.
After four days of reading I have concluded that this is a STRANGE STORY. True the prose are beautifully written( although I don't know of anywhere in the Northeast that is ninety degrees in March).Yet, there is a certain magic in the fabric of the story. Her discription of some of the wonders of nature is nothing short of sublime.I especially like how she diagrams being on the precipice of spring in the Northeast. It truly is a magical time.
Did anyone notice this sentence in the first installment of Probable Future:
"Perhaps her character was a result
of her birth date, for Jenny's daughter had arrived on the twentieth of March, the equinox, when day and night are of equal length."
UH....have I been deluded all these years? I could swear that when day and night are of equal length, it's the summer soltice, not the equinox. Author? Editor? It slipped past everyone, it seems. :)
I believe the author has it right. The vernal and autmnal equinoxes (March and September) are the days when day and night are equal. The Solstices ((June and December) are the days when the day is longest (June) or shortest (December).
This book gets better as you read on, although I'm tired of novels with a heavy spiritual or religious theme...next week's seems to continue that.
The book is correct. The spring (and autumn) equinoxes are when the length of daylight and darkness are equal (at the north pole, I think, but I'm not sure about that part). "Equinox = equal."
The summer and winter solstices are when the daylight is longest or shortest, depending on what hemisphere you're in ... for example, at the north pole during the summer solstice, the sun never sets; on the winter solstice it never rises there.
Actually, the author was right about the equinox being a time of equal day and night (12 hours each). At the solstice, the sun is at its farthest point(north or south) from the equator.
As for the book itself, I'm not sure it's one I'll end up finishing, but I very much appreciate the writing. It manages to be lyrical and evocative without going over the top and ending up sounding like an exercise in "let's see how pretty I can write without making sense." :)