The story starts on a brutally gorgeous June day in the small town of Monroe, Massachusetts. Ethan and Jorie, the perfect, beautiful couple, have been married for 13 years, and they're still very much in love. Ethan is handsome, reliable and a pillar of the community. But 13 years ago, far away in Maryland, he committed a brutal rape and murder. A ...
The story starts on a brutally gorgeous June day in the small town of Monroe, Massachusetts. Ethan and Jorie, the perfect, beautiful couple, have been married for 13 years, and they're still very much in love. Ethan is handsome, reliable and a pillar of the community. But 13 years ago, far away in Maryland, he committed a brutal rape and murder. A young girl's phone call exposes him, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them again; as nothing could ever be the same for that other young girl who was raped all those years ago, or for her family. Jorie's best friend Charlotte has breast cancer. Her cancer is cut out and treated, and she looks set to survive. Whereas the cancer that has eaten away invisibly at a marriage, a family and a community may not kill but it destroys just as insidiously. This is a powerful, disturbing novel about the dark shadows in ordinary lives, about the ripples that carry on indefinitely from a violent act. And the blue diary of the title belonged to the dead girl...As in all Hoffman's novels, all the characters come alive, each with their own vibrant personalitites and concerns, in a story which is as powerfully gripping as any by Anita Shreve or Nicci French.
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Hoffman paints her story in broad strokes as she tackles the phenomena of the vampire. She does seem to leave out some deeper exploration of the psyche of the vampire and his effect on other people, so the story is a little crude but utterly readable and may still lead to some deeper speculation on the mystical potent of good or evil.
The vampire Ethan is seen to cast no reflection in the mirror by the neighbor girl Kat Williams who is also a friend of Ethan's son Collie. Hoffman also describes the young Ethan as one whose dreams "stuck to him and made him shine" although they were empty.
Don't you know anyone like this? They often have a mate because always they need someone to feed on. Vampires have a lot of discipline: they know how to suck it up, but deep inside they are still evil. The can turn it on and shine and be oddly beguiling at times but seem to cast a long shadow and at other times bring out the worst in people who may be unaware of whence comes the dark influence. Leaving others with "sympathy for the devil" when their mate blows up. In their past they have dark sins; not necessarily murder but, like plagiarism, or the worst kind of sabotage of the romance of others, or other professional and personal infidelities and they tend to believe their own lies.
In the broadest strokes Hoffman asks how can someone this good be this bad or vice versa, and how can we be so deluded by them. Actually she gives the deepest exploration to the character Kat Williams who "knows she's bad" but shows compassion and care for other characters unlike Ethan who merely performs for an audience. Also Kat is the character that sees Ethan's true empty self lacking reflection in the mirror.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-06-04 Hyperbole is the hallmark of Hoffman's prose. As her 14th novel begins, readers meet Ethan Ford, reliable master carpenter, fire department volunteer and life-saving hero, perfect husband and all-round hunk. In a crescendo of overkill, Hoffman (The River King) identifies Ethan as "truly an extraordinary person." Readers may mutter "enough already," even while recognizing that such a glorious buildup means that Ethan is riding for a fall. But in this case, Hoffman's strategy is effective, because Ethan is suddenly arrested on suspicion of the rape and murder of teenager Rachel Morris 15 years earlier in Maryland. Ethan confesses to the crime, but says that he is now "a different man,'' who has redeemed himself through exemplary behavior. What this revelation means to his beautiful wife of 13 years, Jorie; his 12-year old son, Collie; his friends and admirers in the small community of Monroe, Mass.; and especially to Collie's friend, Kat Williams, who tipped off the police after she saw Ethan's photo on a TV crime blotter, allows the novel to investigate the themes of devotion, betrayal, guilt and forgiveness in trenchantly effective ways. Hoffman avoids the temptation of a feel-good ending, at the same time providing a sensitive assessment of the moral qualities constituting a good life. Throughout, her observations of the natural world are conveyed with gorgeous clarity and the supporting characters are roundly drawn. If the source of Ethan's monumental selfishness is never adequately explained, perhaps this is Hoffman's intention; evil exists, she suggests, and repentance is often not sufficient to earn true absolution. Literary Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club featured alternate and Mystery Guild alternate; 14-city author tour. (July 23) Forecast: Hoffman's books always lure a large audience, and since this novel, with issues worth pondering, is superior to some of her more whimsical efforts, it should do well right out of the gate. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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