Local Girls by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the eleventh Alice Hoffman novel I have read, but the first in five years, and it isn't a new one. She was once my favorite novelist, and "Second Nature" remains one of my dozen favorite books, ever. But I hated the last one I read before this, "The Ice Queen". I hated it so much that I quit reading Hoffman.
Nonetheless, when I was searching my shelves a few days ago for a book to read, I found "Local Girls" tucked away where it had been forgotten, and because it was an older novel of hers, I decided to read it. It reminded me a little bit of "Seventh Heaven"; not bad, but not great, either.
To me, Hoffman's strengths have always been her very well-drawn female characters and her sense of magic. There is plenty of that in this novel, which is the story of a girl, Gretel, and the people surrounding her as she moves from her teen years to young adulthood. We meet her best friend Jill, her mother, who contracts breast cancer, her cousin Margot, and her doomed brother who never really recovers from his father leaving.
What I liked best about "Local Girls" was the believability of every one of the characters, even when Hoffman's signature magical realism takes them through some unusual plot twists. What I liked least was that the main character, Gretel, while not unsympathetic, wasn't someone who I felt could carry a novel. She's just a pretty ordinary "local girl", which I suppose is the point, but while I liked them well enough, I won't miss any of these characters nor probably recall much about them a year from now.
I can't recommend "Local Girls" except for waits at airports or the like. But I did recently buy Hoffman's recent and much-praised novel "The Dove Keepers", so we shall see.
View all my reviews