in the UK
A magical new novel by a world-class writer whose ability to fuse the everyday and the uncanny within a magnetically compelling and beautifully written narrative is unrivalled. When the women in the Sparrow family reach thirteen, they develop a unique ability. In young Stella Sparrow's case, the gift, both a blessing and a curse, is the ability to see a person's probable future...When Stella foresees a gruesome murder, she tells her charming, feckless father about it, but too late. The murder has already been committed and suspicion falls on him. Her mother Jenny, can read other people's dreams, but sometimes misinterprets them, to her own cost. In Unity, Mass., families go back years, and the same prejudices and mistakes are recycled over generations. Hoffman unlocks the caskets of family life and the secret history of a community, in a gripping 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 phlox and roses, wisteria and peach blossom, and the hum of bees on a summer evening.
Chatto & Windus
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
Weird, sullen, spiky women with strange powers, oddities among humankind, yet nevertheless wholly real - these are the stuff of Hoffman's latest book, set in in a world that dips in and out of dreamtime and reality in Unity, Massachusetts. She creates an unforgettable mood with her writing, setting her characters in a lush, languid town where plants are beautiful and poisonous and the countryside always presents a threat. The Sparrows are a strange lot; like a rural watered-down Adams family, kinking and winding their way through troubled lives, dishing out doom and portents and witchery wherever they go. The relationship between the three women - Elinor the grandmother, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Stella - chafes and grates. The book begins with Jenny Sparrow, dreamer of other people's dreams, whose marriage to dissolute, lying, dope-smoking Will is now over. The one good thing from their relationship is daughter Stella, whom Jenny dotes on with sickening intensity. Stella is now 13, and a contemporary, sulky girl with a rebellious mind of her own. But Stella is no ordinary child; she has the Sparrow heritage and that means a dubious psychic gift. In her case, it's the ability to see a person's future, how they will die. When Stella foresees the murder of a woman in a diner and tells her father, he goes to the police, where instead of being believed he finds that the crime has already happened and he is arrested for the murder instead. It would be a mistake to think this is a plot-driven book; it's not, but the sheer skill in the writing makes each page full of expectation. Hoffman writes about relationships, the slow changes of life and character, loss and love and the healing of family wounds. All this is set in a countryside which mirrors the light and shade of life, a land of snapping turtles, the incessant drone of bees on hot afternoons, and the dream of a blue rose. It's a beautiful and moving book, deep and literary and lingering long in the memory. (Kirkus UK)
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