Monday, February 18, 2008

The allure of the sea

Aquamarine: Hailey and Claire are two best friends who can't even remember a time before they knew each other. But the unthinkable has happened - Claire is moving to Florida, and this is their very last summer together. To make matters worse, the swim club near the beach where they've spent every summer of their lives is going to be demolished. It has become so dilapidated and run down that only Hailey, Claire and the sole surviving employee spend any time there anymore. Their final summer together is complicated by an amazing appearance of a mermaid in the murky swimming pool, and only two friends who know each other's strengths and weaknesses so well could possibly hope to cope with the tangle of events that follow.

Indigo: In a small town where it rarely rains, the two McGill boys grow up slightly apart from everyone else. Townspeople think that there's something very strange about them, with their love of water and the webbing between their fingers. But thirteen-year-old-Martha loves that they're different. She hates her town, hates how everyone dreads rain ever since the town was flooded years earlier, and she hates how the other kids treat her two friends. Most of all, she hates how people pity her because her mother died the year before, and she certainly hates that her father doesn't seem to care much about anything anymore - not even that horrible Hildy Swoon with her casseroles is elbowing her way into his life, and shoving Martha out. Trevor (Trout) and Eli (Eel) McGill represent everything that isn't her town - their differences simply show that there's more to the world than boring old Oak Grove. Then the rains begin, the town's barrier to keep out the water keeps the water in, and big changes start happening.

This book has been floating around the house for a long time. I have not read anything by Alice Hoffman before. Years ago I tried Turtle Moon and for whatever reason, I could not get into it and gave up after fifty pages. My friend Devinoni loves Alice Hoffman, though, particularly Practical Magic (he's always careful to say the book but definitely not the movie), so I thought I'd give this a try (plus it's also the first of my 10 books to read for Molly's personal reading challenge).

I found the book to be sweet and simple, with engaging characters and settings that were described in such sensory detail that I felt them settle around me as I read. These two novellas have the feel of short stories - I think I read the entire book in an hour or two - so it was a good way to get a taste of Hoffman's writing style, and it did make me interested in reading her longer works (maybe Practical Magic next?).

Water Tales: Aquamarine and Indigo (Two Novels) by Alice Hoffman (Scholastic, 2003)

13 comments:

  1. Honestly, you will love Practical Magic (I predict) - do give it a try next. I love Alice Hoffman's prose. Some of her books are better than others, but the writing is always gorgeous.

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  2. Thanks, Dev - I will definitely add it to the towering pile of TBRs. I most definitely enjoyed her writing - it is evocative but doesn't call too much attention to itself or get in the way of the story.

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  3. This sounds really intriguing. I haven't any Hoffman either.

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  4. I never got to see Aquamarine but it looks like it would be such a cute movie, not to mention book! Indigo sounds interesting too.

    I saw Practical Magic before I read it and loved the movie but the book was pretty much a whole 'nother ballgame. It was good but at times it didn't even feel like the same material! I think you might like it.

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  5. Nicola - I think it was a good introduction, since it was short and simple. Not too much of an investment - but it did pay off!

    Ladytink - I have not seen Aquamarine, but my girls have asked to rent it some time, so I'll let you know. Devinoni is probably appalled, but I did like the movie Practical Magic (and he'd probably say it's only because I haven't read the book!). So now I really have to read it just to see the difference!

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  6. Alice Hoffman, is this the lady who wrote Lovely Bones?

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  7. Nope, VA Gal - that's by Alice Sebold. And you know I'm WAY too wimpy a reader to be able to handle THAT book. Never in a million years!

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  8. I have only read one of her books so far and I really enjoyed it (The Ice Queen) and I really want to read some more by her. I really want to read Practical Magic as I loved the film and the book is supposed to be way better. These both sound fun as well.

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  9. Rhinoa - if Practical Magic goes well, then maybe I'll try The Ice Queen after that. I forgot all about that one - thanks!

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  10. I keep coming across great reviews of Alice Hoffman's books these days. I think it's time to give her a try. Book of those stories sound really good.

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  11. I think these are a good way to get a taste of her writing, Nymeth. I'm certainly up for more!

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  12. I'd recommend "The Foretelling" by Alice Hoffman. It's a young adult book, and if you enjoyed Aquamarine and Indigo I'd say you'd love it.
    It's about an Amazon warrior named Rain who's destined to be queen of her clan.
    The writing is absolutely beautiful and poetic. And it's short too, I read it in one afternoon.

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  13. Ooh, that does sound good, Valentina - I'll add it to my list! :-)

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