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Blue Diary Audio, Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged

3.5 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hoffman writes from on high, a storytelling goddess who drenches the earth with flower-opening sunshine one day, only to bring on the most abysmal gloom the next. She enchants and she riles, and her powers are extraordinary, although the overture to her fourteenth novel is awfully sweet. Ethan and Jorie, gorgeous and madly in love after 13 years of marriage, are just too horribly perfect. Ethan is a carpenter, baseball coach, and volunteer fireman. Jorie is a homemaker and a gifted gardener, and their 12-year-old son, Collie, is handsome and good. It's enough to make you puke, and that's exactly Hoffman's intention because this is a make-believe life that has run its course. The girl-next-door, the younger, funny-looking one named Kat, not her exquisite and coldhearted sister Rosarie, misses her father, who committed suicide, and has never trusted Collie's, so when she recognizes an old photograph of Ethan shown on a most-wanted TV show, she makes the fateful call and then watches in shock while her neighbors' lives collapse like a house that looks fine from the outside but has been consumed by termites until it's no more than a shell. Nothing will ever be the same for the denizens of Monroe, Massachusetts, after Ethan is arrested for the long-unsolved murder of a 15-year-old Maryland girl. Many rally to his cause; Kat and Collie grow up too fast; Jorie's best friend copes with breast cancer; and Jorie, devastated but lucid, realizes that she must learn the truth whatever the cost. This canny tale of abrupt reversals and courageous, unpopular choices is as suspenseful as it is lyrical and provocative. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (July 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587882558
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587882555
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5 x 2.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,130,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Alice Hoffman's latest novel is based on the fascinating - though maybe not so novel - premise that someone can seem so good on the outside yet harbor a horrible, dark past. The story about a seemingly wonderful man, good husband and father and community member, who committed a brutal crime 15 years earlier, is well-crafted, though some parts drag on a bit. The ending was not one of the possible pat endings she could have come up, which is a testament to her talents. i read this book in one sitting.
However, there were some loose ends that kept me thinking after I finished the book. How did Ethan get his new identity? and what did he tell Jorie about his past, why he had no family whatsoever, not even an aunt or uncle and no friends from his time growing up. That part to me was unbelievable. Also the parts of the book that were told in Kat's voice were not really believable -- too much maturity and insight from a 12 year old. Very few authors can pull off trying to write like an adolescent, however, so this isn't a huge shortcoming.
I thought the most interesting part of the book was the section that went back to the scene of the crime, and the years preceding it that led Ethan to murder. But it is hard to believe that someone SO selfish, so cruel, so willing and able to use women and discard them, could become such a loving husband. Did he turn to Jorie because she was weak and he thought she would love him no matter what? It makes you wonder whether what he felt for her was truly love, or just more selfishness.
Despite the strained credibility of the book at times, it is still worth reading. The portraits of Jorie and Charlotte are very good. And Hoffman really conveys the love that Jorie feels for Ethan. Another theme that is well-developed is the theme of jealously, and how it is often misplaced -- we think someone else has everything yet in reality their good fortune, like Jorie's, is as fragile as a house of cards that can come crashing down in a second.
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Format: Hardcover
In "Blue Diary," Alice Hoffman asks an intriguing question: What would happen if someone you knew and loved, was seen on "America's Most Wanted?" Ethan Ford and his wife Jorie and son Collie have lived a model life in the small Massachusetts town of Monroe, until the day a neighbor sees Ethan's picture on TV and discovers his real name is Byron Bell and he's wanted for the murder of a young girl in Maryland. Soon the sheriff is at Ford's door and the quiet little town of Monroe will never be the same. Can a bad man become good? Or has Ethan/Byron simply been pretending to be a local hero and model father for the past 15 years? Ford's friends and family struggle with these questions in "Blue Diary," which is not a murder mystery (Ford quickly confesses) or courtroom drama (the book ends before the trial even begins), but instead a probe into every day human nature. "Blue Diary" also takes Hoffman's unique narrative style (writing each chapter from a different character's perspective) to a new level, as she tells the story in the voice of at least nine of the novel's main characters. The premise that drives the plot is an intriguing one, but the schizophrenic nature of the book makes it hard to get interested in the story line, or get to know the characters, until you're at least halfway through the story. That having been said, I remain a fan of Hoffman's work and, while "Blue Diary" probably isn't for everyone, and isn't my favorite Hoffman novel (that would be "Here on Earth"), it's another unique and interesting tale from this talented author.
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By A Customer on May 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Blue Diary" is Alice Hoffman's fourteenth novel, so one would think she would know better than to create such cliched and cardboard-cutout characters as the ones that people this story. I love Hoffman's lyrical, and sometimes hyperbolic prose however, so I decided to give "Blue Diary" a chance.
The plot of this book is not bad, but it's nothing to email your friends about, either. After thirteen years of marriage, and the birth of a son, an unsuspecting, but perfect wife, Jorie Ford, is shocked when her perfect husband, Ethan is arrested for the long-ago rape and murder of a teenaged girl. Even more shocking to Jorie is the fact that "Ethan" is not really "Ethan." He is Byron Bell, a sociopathic murderer.
Although I found the plot of "Blue Diary" rather trite, it was the characters that really made me dislike the book. Jorie is simply "too perfect." She is the perfect homemaker, the perfect mother, the perfect gardener. And even all this sweet perfection and outward domestic bliss would have been acceptable if Hoffman had not made Jorie so maddeningly clueless.
Come on! How many wives would be so naive as to not even wonder when their longtime husband had never once revealed even a hint of his life before marriage? Husbands who didn't reveal where they were born, who their families and friends were, where they went to school, etc.? I can tell you one wife who wouldn't bat a perfectly mascared eyelash at all this secrecy...Jorie Ford. It was maddening. I wanted to slap the woman to wake her up from her dreamworld. I have a feeling a slap wouldn't have helped, though. Jorie Ford is a woman who sees the world and everyone in it in terms of black and white. There are the "good guys" and there are the "bad guys.
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