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Blue Diary [Paperback]

Alice Hoffman
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Sep 2001
The story starts on a brutally gorgeous June day in the small town of Monroe, Massachusetts. Ethan and Jorie, the perfect, beautiful couple, have been married for 13 years, and they're still very much in love. Ethan is handsome, reliable and a pillar of the community. But 13 years ago, far away in Maryland, he committed a brutal rape and murder. A young girl's phone call exposes him, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them again; as nothing could ever be the same for that other young girl who was raped all those years ago, or for her family. Jorie's best friend Charlotte has breast cancer. Her cancer is cut out and treated, and she looks set to survive. Whereas the cancer that has eaten away invisibly at a marriage, a family and a community may not kill but it destroys just as insidiously. This is a powerful, disturbing novel about the dark shadows in ordinary lives, about the ripples that carry on indefinitely from a violent act. And the blue diary of the title belonged to the dead girl...As in all Hoffman's novels, all the characters come alive, each with their own vibrant personalitites and concerns, in a story which is as powerfully gripping as any by Anita Shreve or Nicci French.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (13 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701173173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701173173
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,809,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Alice Hoffman's Blue Diary is a gripping tale of good and evil, of ordinary families whose lives are wrenched apart by death. It questions whether you can ever really know anyone, even members of your immediate family you have known all your life, and whether you would be able to find it in your heart to forgive someone you love and respect when they are accused of a crime so terrible that it smashes your whole world to pieces.

Jorie and Ethan Ford are a golden couple blessed with an 11-year-old son, Collie, living a decent, quiet life in small-town Massachusetts. Ethan is a pillar of the community--a handsome, good man, whose life revolves around his family, his work as a carpenter and his roles as volunteer fireman and Little League coach. Since he first walked into her home-town, her life and her bed 13 years before, Jorie has never lost the feeling that she is special, singled out by fate to live a charmed life with a man she still desires and a son she adores. And then, on a glorious Monday morning in June, Jorie's fate turns and her life as she knows it is changed. One wonders whether the hand of fate will offer her any kind of salvation and if she can come to terms with the unimaginable.

Kat Williams, Collie's next-door neighbour and best friend is mature beyond her years. In her short life, she has had to cope with the loss of her father, a distant mother and a sister who attracts, and dispenses with, boyfriends as flies to a light, but who has taken to self-mutilation to heal her numbness. Is Kat the only one who can instinctively feel when something, or someone, is wrong? Charlotte, Jorie's best friend since childhood, knows when something is amiss, but her own terrible losses and lack of self-worth cause her to mistrust her feelings and internalise blame.

In the pages of this (relatively) short novel, Ms Hoffman manages to cover the singular emotions involved in so many different relationships--from parental, marital, sibling, friendship and even criminal-victim. The writing demonstrates enormous intelligence and endless compassion, an ability to cut through the sharp edges of humanity and look deep into a person's soul. In spite of its dark, disturbing theme, Blue Diary is an inspiring story of the enduring spirit of human love. Carey Green


"Alice Hoffman is simply brilliant" (Daily Mail)

"A moving, poignant, powerful tale about love, death, friendship and family... Blue Diary gently gets under your skin. You'll be hooked" (Daily Mirror)

"Alice Hoffman writes quite wonderfully about the magic in our lives" (New York Times Book Review)

"Like her contemporaries, Carol Shields and Alice Munro, Hoffman has an acute eye for detail... Hoffman writes with heartbreaking clarity" (The Times)

"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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and emotionally charged 28 Oct 2002
By Christine L HALL OF FAME
I hadn't read the synopsis of this book very carefully so the focus of the story came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I was expecting more of a crime story. Saying that, I was very pleasantly surprised. Having read only one of Alice Hoffman's previous books (At Risk) I didn't know all that much about her style of writing, but I find her prose almost magical at times and I loved the way she avoided so many stereotypical episodes that would have ruined the story.
I normally don't like stories with too many details about too many people as I generally find that they clutter a book. That was not the case in Blue Diary, rather the opposite, it showed how a lot of people were affected by Ethan/Bryon's crime and the many different ways in which the town reacted.
I particularly found the characters of Jorie and Kat compelling. Jorie was the wife of a man she knew nothing about. In a few minutes her entire world falls apart and she struggles with herself to not only justify the overpowering love she's felt for her husband for all those years, but also with her doubts about her own ability to judge someone's character. She accepts his guilt, but she still doesn't want to believe that he's a bad man. I kept wondering what she would do and it isn't until just before the end that she finds out his true character and then she makes her decision. Kat on the other hand is the one who turns Ethan in and she spends her summer holiday not only on the border between childhood and budding womanhood, but also dealing with the immense guilt she feels about ruining her best friend's life. She's also burdened by her mother's and sister's inability to deal with her father's suicide a year earlier.
This book was such a pleasant surprise and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SO TRUE 30 April 2002
By A Customer
All I will say is that I cried at the ending of this book and I have read many books in my life... only a handful have had that effect. Alice Hoffman has done herself proud. There are lessons to be learned in reading this book. One of them and the most powerful is that even if you don't see them right away, there will ALWAYS be consequences, even ones you could never have thought of. The characters all find that you must ultimately take responsibility for everything you do, both 'good' and 'bad'. A very moving tale. Read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, yet captivating and a true Hoffman classic 10 Oct 2006
I am always surprised by how few people I talk to have ever read any Hoffman. She is, by far the most capable and captivating contemporary writer I have taken the time to get to know. And this is what you must do, you must read a selection of her books and get to know her writing.

Blue Diary is the story of a family, content and beautiful, the darlings of the town. That is until one day the police turn up on their doorstep and arrest the male character for a sickening rape and murder, which he did many years ago and which he had put behind him in a bid to get on with his life.

The characters as usual are built into the likeable and the hateful, which Hoffman does so well that you switch your faith in them many times throughout the book.

Yes, it is dark and yes there is one scene, which will leave a sour taste in your mouth, but it is good, very good. Similar in vein to the Ice Queen and if you like that you will like this and the River King, all equally dark and delicious!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative 7 July 2007
Having never come across Alice Hoffman before I didn't know what to expect. I found her style of writing utterly captivating - I could taste the strawberrys and hear the blackbirds. If you like descriptive, lyrical writers who can put you in the place with their words - read this. After reading this in 2 sittings I am now desparate to try another of Alice Hoffman's books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too descriptive for me. 6 May 2007
The Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman is a novel set in middle America. It tells the story of Jorie and Ethan Ford. They have had an idyllic marriage for thirteen years, their garden overflows with fruit and vegetables and they are loved by all their neighbours. Mostly because Ethan is a volunteer firefighter and has saved many of his neighbours lives, and he is also a respected and trusted carpenter who has remodelled many of his neighbours houses. However, their world is shattered when Ethan is accused of a brutal murder that occurred over ten years ago. The novel follows the fall out from this accusation and its effect on Ethan's family and friends.

I found the style of this novel a bit too descriptive. Hoffman loves to describe the surroundings and in particular the natural world encompassing the character. This is ok to some extent, and I can see the comparison she is often making about the natural world and humanity, but I sometimes found it took away from the story. For example "The damp scent of evening falling, the heavy August air, the song of red-winged blackbirds, alighting in the fields around town by the thousands, to feed on wild rice and fight for their territory' I just think this is a bit too much description, however I know some people have referred to her work as `lyrical' so maybe if you like that sort of thing this book would be for you.

I found the characters difficult to like to begin with, but as the novel progressed I found I cared more for Jorie that I thought I would. She is basically living everyone's worst nightmare; what if everything you trusted turned out to be false?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully sad
Blue Diary tells the story of Jorie Ford; married to Ethan for thirteen years and with a twelve year old son, Collie, Jorie seems to have it all. Read more
Published 9 months ago by madaboutbooks
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocked to the core.
That's how I felt on reading this. Shocked. Having read, and enjoyed, many Hoffman books before, I was really shocked at the language and graphic detail she used when describing... Read more
Published on 12 Sep 2011 by M. W. Shipley
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
I was disappointed in this novel. It started promisingly enough, with the sudden and shocking arrest of Ethan (happily married with one son) for a murder committed 13 years ago,... Read more
Published on 27 Dec 2009 by F. M. M. Stott
1.0 out of 5 stars Drab, dull and dissapointing
I grabbed this book with great enthusiasm, as i found the blurb very exciting. maybe i set the bar too high, but i was incredibly dissapointed with the plot, characters and, well,... Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2009 by H. Jarvis
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
'Blue Diary' was a interesting read, right from the start I found myself engrossed. Ethan Ford, dedicated family man, pillar of the commuity has a secret past and suddenly it is... Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2009 by Paula Mc
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as expected
Synopsis from Amazon:

Ethan and Jorie, the perfect couple, have been married for 13 years, and are still very much in love. Read more
Published on 26 Dec 2008 by K. Leversuch
1.0 out of 5 stars No, No , No. It wasted my time
Yes, there were interesting bits in this story but I fully expected the final chapter, after Jorie has read the Diary, to be the last chapter of the diary outlining what Rachel had... Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2007 by Mrs. K. M. Cowley
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost, but not quite
I wasn't surprised to find the reader reviews for this novel split between two clear camps: those who were gripped by it, and those who were irritated by it. Read more
Published on 21 May 2006 by Reb
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Beautiful
This book blew me away. It's the first time I've read an Alice Hoffman, and I was mesmerised by her beautiful writing. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2004 by "pnptravels"
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