The Bookstore Sisters and Everything My Mother Taught Me are two compelling short reads by bestselling author Alice Hoffman. Read my review.
The Bookstore Sisters Synopsis
From New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman comes a heartfelt short story about family, independence, and finding your place in the world – The Bookstore Sisters.
Isabel Gibson has all but perfected the art of forgetting. She’s a New Yorker now, with nothing left to tie her to Brinkley’s Island, Maine. Her parents are gone, the family bookstore is all but bankrupt, and her sister, Sophie, will probably never speak to her again.
But when a mysterious letter arrives in her mailbox, Isabel feels herself drawn to the past. After years of fighting for her independence, she dreads the thought of going back to the island. What she finds there may forever alter her path—and change everything she thought she knew about her family, her home, and herself.
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Everything My Mother Taught Me Synopsis
In this haunting short story of loyalty and betrayal, a young woman in early 1900s Massachusetts discovers that in navigating her treacherous coming-of-age, she must find her voice first.
For fatefully observant Adeline, growing up carries an ominous warning from her adulterous mother: don’t say a word. Adeline vows to never speak again. But that’s not her only secret. After her mother takes a housekeeping job at a lighthouse off the tip of Cape Ann, a local woman vanishes. The key to the mystery lies with Adeline, the silent witness.
New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman crafts this beautiful, heart-wrenching short story – Everything My Mother Taught Me. It is part of Inheritance, a collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Historical, Literature, Short Stories
The festive season is a hectic time of year, so this is when I often find myself turning to short reads to get my literary fix.
Alice Hoffman is well known for the fantastical elements in her novels, but the magic in The Bookstore Sisters stems from much simpler things like the enduring love of family friends and the power of both grief and redemption. A loyal canine sidekick, a feisty pre-teen and a recipe book written with a mother’s love, are just some of the elements in this story that charmed me. But The Bookstore Sisters’ execution was a little rudimentary in places, and the prose less nuanced than I’d expect from Hoffman.
However, her title Everything My Mother Taught Me is a beautifully crafted short story. The historical windswept and treacherous island setting is evocatively depicted, and the deprivation and cruelty inflicted by some in haunting contrast to the stoicism, authenticity and kindness of others. Adeline is a wonderfully resilient and independent character, whose highly perceptive first-person narrative I found beguiling.
She was the sort of person who saw only herself and her shadow, and the rest of us disappeared in the bright sunlight.
I was entertained by both of these short reads from Alice Hoffman, but consider Everything My Mother Taught Me top-quality literature.
If like me you are strapped for time right now, but still need to maintain your reading habit, why not try these or the many other short reads by big-name authors available for download.
About the Author, Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Marriage of Opposites, The Red Garden, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Dovekeepers, Here on Earth, an Oprah’s Book Club selection; and the Practical Magic series. She lives near Boston.