When the women in the Sparrow family reach thirteen, they develop a unique ability.
In young Stella's case, the gift, which is both a blessing and a curse, is the ability to see a person's probable future.
Stella foresees a gruesome murder, and tells her charming, feckless father about it, but it is too late - the murder has already been committed and suspicion falls on him.
Hoffman unlocks the caskets of family life and the secret history of a community in this magical story about young love and old love, about making choices - usually the wrong ones - about foresight and consequences, all suffused with the haunting scent of roses and wisteria, and the hum of bees on a summer evening.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 22/05/2004
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099453864
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Review by jayne_charles
This had an interesting set-up: a family in which the women inherit special abilities on their thirteenth birthdays. Stretching back generations the quirk threw up some interesting scenarios (one of them didn’t need sleep, one of them couldn’t feel pain etc etc). Some were a bit naff, I have to say. The one who could dream other people’s dreams, for example. I would have been tempted to send that one back to the magic shop. So, as the story begins the most recent descendant of the magical line disovers that she can see how other people will ultimately die, and she manages to get her father implicated in a grisly murder. It’s a good start, and made me want to read on. However, this particular element of the plot becomes more of a side show, with the author concentrating mainly on the dodgy relationship decisions made by her multi-generational characters.It’s an interesting portrait of small town America - this is an author who does settings very well. On the other hand, I did think from an early stage I could see how things were going to develop, and I was mostly right. A bit too much whimsy and too little foretelling of death I reckon.