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The Probable Future [Paperback]

Alice Hoffman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

5 Aug 2004

When the women in the Sparrow family reach thirteen, they develop a unique ability. In young Stella's case, the gift, which is both a blessing and a curse, is the ability to see a person's probable future. Stella foresees a gruesome murder, and tells her charming, feckless father about it, but it is too late - the murder has already been committed and suspicion falls on him.

Hoffman unlocks the caskets of family life and the secret history of a community in this magical story about young love and old love, about making choices - usually the wrong ones - about foresight and consequences, all suffused with the haunting scent of roses and wisteria, and the hum of bees on a summer evening.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009945386X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099453864
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Magical and entertaining; at times positively bewitching... That Hoffman is a highly capable storyteller is in no doubt. Hoffman's latest novel possesses the irresistible quality of a compelling fairytale for adults" (Scotland on Sunday)

"A great atmospheric storyteller... Her books are a real pleasure" (Kate Atkinson)

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

"An enchanting page-turner of a novel... Charming, utterly absorbing and very enjoyable, this book will leave you wanting move" (Big Issue)

"Alice Hoffman is a daring and able writer; she plots conjunctions of mundane and magical events with such ease that the reader never doubts her word" (New Yorker)

Book Description

'Alice Hoffman is simply brilliant' Daily Mail

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice Hoffman at her very best 18 Sep 2006
If you have never read an Alice Hoffman novel, then this book is probably the best place to start. It is filled to the brim with her beautifully metaphoric language and you find yourself immersed into the lives of the women, whom the book is created around.

The interweaving story lines, atmospheric locations and development of the characters run like a blood-line through the novel until you reach the end and feel a large sense of sadness that these people will no longer be a part of your day.

Wonderful, but read on. Read: Blue Diary, Blackbird House, Here on Earth, Turtle Moon and River King to name but a few and you will catch onto her regular use of metaphors, such as birds and her captivating, sometimes dislikeable, but always fatefully strong women.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book! 17 Jan 2006
Alice Hoffman has been compared with Anne Tyler and Carol Shields. I have to say that I didn't agree - until now. This book is simply one of the best books I have read in a long time. It has a magical, unreal quality and humanness about it. She makes the characters come alive for you - you care about them. It really is a lovely story to get lost in. I just can't put it down. I borrowed this book from the library. I haven't even finished it but want to buy it for myself - and when I saw the other reviews I had to put the record straight!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Probable Future 14 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The Probable Future tells the story of the Sparrow family. A family that only produces girls in the month of March. But this isn't the only unusual thing. On these girls thirteenth birthday, they awake with a gift - weather that be: feeling no pain, dreaming other people's dreams, or being able to detect a lie.
So when Stella Sparrow turns thirteen, she discovers she is able to see a person's probable future. And when she foresees a gruesome murder, she confides in her feckless father...but too late. The murder has already been committed and the suspicion fall upon him.
This was my first Alice Hoffman book and I found the story was an easy one to get into. The plot got started pretty much from the word go and I didn't have any problem flipping those pages. It really is an uplifting story of mistakes, bad choices, wrong paths, and forgiveness.
And as well as Stella's present dilemma, we also explore the previous Sparrow women, which was an intriguing layer and a strong point of the narrative. The past story of these women was woven really nicely with the present one, and I enjoyed that there wasn't a 'then and now' structure this book - it was simply tangled in the moment. It really gave it an importance and urgency to the that part of the narrative.
The characters as a whole were interesting. The relationships and dynamics between the generations of mother and daughter was a fascinating one to delve into, and I appreciated the depth put in there. Every single character developed very well throughout the story and by the end, it was more than satisfying to see how much they'd grown.
Alice Hoffman's writing was brilliant and captivating and beautiful. She has a way of describing emotions and experience with compassions and care, which was really lovely to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 1 Sep 2014
By Mrs. C
I have loved reading every Alice Hoffman book, I love the way she writes
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rain, Rain and more rain!!!! 7 Mar 2013
By Hilary
A captivating storyline, with each successive generation of women, since the strange appearance of Rebecca Sparrow in the 1600s having a different power.
Reebcca couldn't feel pain,Elinor can see lies, Jenny sees other peoples dreams.
Hoffmann continues her theme of strong, resilient women throughout the book. There are some good bits and there is a definite sense of time and place, but there are way too many repetitive descriptions. April rain, daffodil rain, blue rain, lake rain. Snapping turtles, toads, frogs. If I read them once, I read them a hundred times .I assume the author was portraying, good and evil, black and white etc but it just all got a bit muddled . The thread of the story also didn't seem to hold together at the end either, with some odd character appearing, intent on more than mischief, with little explaination.
Also a bit confused as to the time this book is taking place. No mobile phones, no PC's, no TV, yet it appears to be in todays age. Little strange, that Matt trudges through his thesis with a trusty pencil!!
Overall , some great bits, but perhaps could have been so much better.
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