Hoffman, Alice. White Horses. Berkley Books: New York, 1982.
Reason read: Judging a book by its cover, I chose White Horses to read in honor of when the television show “All Creatures Great and Small” first aired. I assumed there was at least one horse in the book when I scheduled it for January.
Family: Dina (mother), Harry aka King (father), Rueben (son), Teresa (daughter), and Silver (favorite son). Here’s what you need to know about these people: Every character is deeply flowed. Dina is tragic. King is a jerk. Rueben is nonexistent. Teresa is hopeless. Silver is a conundrum. Everyone is left wanting in one way or another. This is a book with an overarching theme of obsession and I spent most of the time either feeling sorry for the entire family or wondering what the hell was going on with them. Well written without a doubt, but with a stranger-than-strange plot. Dina is obsessed with Arias. These fairytale dark-haired, dark-eyed cowboys supposedly swoop in on mythical white horses to save the day. Dina truly believes that at any second an Aria will arrive outside her kitchen window and steal her away. She stares hungrily at her own son as Silver has the hair, the eyes, and he always wears a white shirt that could substitute nicely for the prerequisite white horse. The favorite son takes on a whole new level of importance when Teresa falls in love with him. What is so special about Silver that makes everyone fawn over him, despite the fact he turned out to be a petty thief, drug dealer, and betraying snitch? Honestly, it’s Hoffman’s control over her storytelling that kept me hanging on to her every word. There is a delicate subtlety to her intentions that was just beautiful.
Confessional: I had to sit with this book for awhile. I just didn’t know how I felt about any of it.
Quotes I liked, “Dina was certain that every jump in temperature could force arguments to rise from the dust, ghosts would appear in the midday haze” (p 3), and “Even after she had climbed onto the raised platform of the cafe, she still wasn’t certain that the bones in the graveyard hadn’t followed her into the heart of the city” (p 37).
Author fact: I have five different Hoffman books on my challenge list. I have finished three of them (including White Horses).
Book trivia: I could see this as an adaptation for the big screen.
Nancy said: Pearl said “It’s not too much of an overstatement to say that much popular fiction of late has as its text or subtext a family in trouble” (Book Lust p 82).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust and only mentioned in the chapter called “Families in Trouble” (p 82), although Pearl could have included it in the first chapter, “A…is for Alice (p 1) because there she lists other Hoffman books.
Hoffman, Alice. Illumination Night. New York: Berkley Books, 1987.
“Simon can hear the sound of pine cones hitting the ground, or bones breaking” (p 4). You know you are in for a wild ride when you read that early-in-the-book sentence because, at that moment you haven’t learned that Simon, at age four, has just heard the result of woman trying to fly. There are so many things you don’t know…yet. I should also add that Illumination Night is a really fast read. I read the first 80 pages before coming up for air. My entire lunch break flew by without my eyes lifting from the page once. Alice Hoffman is one of those authors that can suck you into a story within the first few sentences. Once you are hooked you can’t escape the story or the characters. This is a story of relationships. A grandmother, trying to understand her 16 year old granddaughter. They live next door to a married couple trying to live with their insecurities and unmet desires. All of the characters become entangled with one another when the teenager sets her sights on seducing the husband. And then, this part sounds like the punchline to a joke, a giant walks into the picture…Seriously, this is a simply beautiful story about relationships, the ones with healing and faith in them.
Reason read: Hoffman’s birthday is in March. I tried to read this two years ago. Actually, to be more precise I tried to listen to it on cd two years ago. Every disc was so scratched; damaged beyond repair that it was impossible for me to continue. I sent the whole thing back to the owning library and took it off my list for what was supposed to be one year. One thing led to another and I’m only now getting back to it…in print.
Author fact: Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors.
Book trivia: Alice Hoffman signed this copy of Illumination Night. Very cool.
BookLust Twist: from all three Lust Books! In Book Lust in the chapter called simply “A…My Name is Alice” (p1); in More Book Lust in the chapter called “Marriage Blues” (p 162); in Book Lust to Go in the chapter simply called “Martha’s Vineyard” (p 142).