Summary and book reviews of Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman

Blue Diary

By Alice Hoffman

Blue Diary
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2001,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2002,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

The courage to face the unthinkable is at the core of this magnificent new novel. How do we manage to confront the truths in our lives and find forgiveness in the most unforgiving of circumstances? How do we love truly and deeply in a world that is as brutal as it is beautiful?

When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summer morning, none of his neighbors would guess that for more than thirteen years, he has been running from his past. His true nature has been locked away, as hidden as his real identity. But sometimes locks spring open, and the devastating truths of Ethan Ford's history shatter the small-town peace of Monroe, affecting family and friends alike.

This deeply felt and compelling novel makes it clear why Alice Hoffman has been called "one of the best writers we have today" (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Honest, shattering, seductive, and ultimately healing, Blue Diary is an unforgettable novel by a writer who tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader's heart" (Time magazine).

Chapter One
The Hanged Man

It's the last Monday of the month, a brutally gorgeous morning brimming with blue air and the sweet scent of honeysuckle which grows wild in the woods beyond Front Street, when Ethan Ford fails to show up for work. On this glorious day, the brilliant sky is filled with banks of motionless white clouds, fleecy as sheep, but so obedient and lazy they haven't any need of a shepherd or a fence. June in New England is a peerless month, with long days of glittering sunlight and roses unfolding. This is the season when even the most foolish of men will stop to appreciate all that is set out before him: the creamy blossoms of hollyhocks and English daisies; the heavenly swarms of bees humming like angels in the hedges, hovering over green lawns trimmed so carefully it can seem as though the hand of all that's divine has leaned down to construct a perfect patchwork, green upon green, perfection upon perfection.

On any other day, Ethan Ford ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summer morning, none of his neighbors would guess that for more than thirteen years, he has been running from his past. His true nature has been locked away, as hidden as his real identity. But sometimes locks spring open, and the devastating truths of Ethan Ford's history shatter the small-town peace of Monroe, affecting family and friends alike.

Discussion Questions
  1. In Blue Diary, Alice Hoffman uses imagery from the natural world to mirror events that take place in the lives of her characters. Why is it portentous when she writes in Chapter One that lilies "only last for a single day, and then, no matter what a person might do to save ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Newsday - Susan Isaacs

With her glorious prose and extraordinary eye, Alice Hoffman seems to know what it means to be human.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Throughout, her observations of the natural world are conveyed with gorgeous clarity and the supporting characters are roundly drawn.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

This canny tale of abrupt reversals and courageous, unpopular choices is as suspenseful as it is lyrical and provocative.

Reader Reviews
Anonymous

A beautiful and intelligent book about love and loss

Darragh

This was the first book by Alice Hoffman that I have read and I've mixed reactions to it. In essence, it's worth sticking with the book and reading it for the character development despite the stylistic excesses. Hoffman has a bad case of "...   Read More

Gingeena

I thought this book was superb, I loves how the natural world was drawn into this book and how nature was used to described people and feelings.

Heather Metzler

I enjoy anything unpredictable and out of the ordinary and Hoffman delivers this in The Blue Diary. I love the multiple points of view that she reveals chapter by chapter. This allowed me to focus my questions and inferences on the plot rather than ...   Read More

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