For more than a century, the small town of Haddan, Massachusetts, has been divided, as if by a line drawn down the center of Main Street, separating those born and bred in the village from those who attend the prestigious Haddan School. But one October night the two worlds are thrust together due to an inexplicable death, and the town's divided history is revealed in all its complexity. The lives of everyone involved are unraveled: from Carlin Leander, the fifteen-year-old girl who is as loyal as she is proud, to Betsy Chase, a woman running from her own destiny; from August Pierce, a boy who unexpectedly finds courage in his darkest hour, to Abel Grey, the police officer who refuses to let unspeakable actions--both past and present--slide by without notice.
Entertainment Weekly has declared that Alice Hoffman's worlds are "replete with miracles" and The Boston Globe has praised her "iridescent prose, taut narrative suspense, and alluring atmosphere." Now she brings us a novel as compelling as it is daring, an exploration of forgiveness and hope, a wondrous tale of innocence and evil, and of the secrets we keep.
The Iron Box
The Haddan School was built in 1858 on the sloping banks of the Haddan River, a muddy and precarious location that had proven disastrous from the start. That very first year, when the whole town smelled of cedar shavings, there was a storm of enormous proportions, with winds so strong that dozens of fish were drawn up from the reedy shallows, then lifted above the village in a shining cloud of scales. Torrents of water fell from the sky, and by morning the river had overflowed, leaving the school's freshly painted white clapboard buildings adrift in a murky sea of duckweed and algae.
For weeks, students were ferried to classes in rowboats; catfish swam through flooded perennial gardens, observing the disaster with cool, glassy eyes. Every evening, at twilight, the school cook balanced on a second-story window ledge, then cast out his rod to catch dozens of silver trout, a species found only in the currents of the Haddan River, a sweet, fleshy variety that was ...
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Transcendent stories: about the uncertain gestures of love, about the betrayals and gifts of the body, about the surprises and bounties of the heart, and about what comes to us unbidden and what we choose.
Goodman's deft sense of character brings alive an appealing and engrossing cast, fleshed out by nuances of place and time.
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