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Here on Earth [Paperback]

Alice Hoffman
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (439 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2002 Oprah's Book Club
In a review of Hoffman's previous novel, Practical Magic, Booklist wrote, "magic, fantasy, and full-tilt love-at-first-sight have figured in all of Hoffman's sexy, funny, and endearing novels. . . . in Hoffman's universe, all boundaries between inner and outer realms are erased. Fear brings whipping winds, a malevolent spirit causes lilac bushes to achieve monstrous proportions, and love turns the air sweet and golden, melts butter, and makes everyone giddy." In Here on Earth, the darker, obsessive side of love is revealed in all of its power, and with all the havoc it wreaks.

After nearly twenty years of living in California, March Murray, along with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, returns to the sleepy Massachusetts town where she grew up to attend the funeral of Judith Dale, the beloved housekeeper who raised her. Yet returning to her hometown also brings her back to Hollis, March's former soul mate and lover. March's father had taken the teenaged Hollis, an abandoned child, and the product of a series of detention homes, into his house as a boarder, and treated him like a son. Yet March and Hollis's passionate love was hardly a normal sibling relationship. When Hollis left her after a petty fight, March waited for him three long years, wondering what she had done wrong.

Encountering Hollis again makes March acutely aware of the choices that she has made, and the choices everyone around her has made—including Mrs. Dale, who knew more of love than March could ever have suspected, and her brother Alan, whose tragic history has left him grief-struck, with alcohol as his only solace. Her attraction to Hollis is overwhelming—and March jeopardizes her marriage, her relationship with her daughter and her own happiness in an attempt to reclaim the past.

"Hoffman conveys the mesmerizing lure of a lost love with haunting sensuality," Publishers Weekly, said in an advance review and Library Journal said: "Hoffman takes great care here to examine the many facets of love and relationships, turning them like a prism to reflect on March and Hollis."

With Here on Earth , Alice Hoffman achieves once again the "iridescent prose, taut narrative suspense and alluring atmosphere" that The Boston Globe cites as her hallmark. Erotic, disturbing and compelling, this is without a doubt Alice Hoffman's most unforgettable novel.

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From Amazon

Oprah Book Club® Selection, March 1998: Here on Earth is set in motion when March Murray and her teenage daughter travel from their California home to New England. Their stay is to be brief. Judith Dale, her childhood housekeeper-cum-foster mother, has died, and March must set things to right and get out of gloomy Jenkintown as quickly as possible. "Five days tops," she reassures her scientist husband. Instead, she is pulled back into the arms of Hollis, her first love--an avaricious, Heathcliff-like individual who radiates sulfur and cruelty. "She left and didn't come back, not even when he called her, and yet here she is, on this dark night; here and no place else." In this deep fable of loss and control, love and fear, Alice Hoffman allows us into her characters' cores and makes us wish their fortunes were happier. Here on Earth is filled with wisdom, what-ifs, and animals who seem, if not to know more than human beings, at least to know how to shy from danger.

From Library Journal

As this novel opens, March Murray Cooper returns to her hometown, ostensibly to bury the woman who raised her but needing to resolve the unfinished business of her youthful love for Hollis, from whom she has been separated for years. Hollis has now grown into a man embittered by loneliness. He has learned neither to forgive nor to forget, and March must discover whether he can ever learn to love. Hoffman (Practical Magic, LJ 12/94) takes great care here to examine the many facets of love and relationships, turning them like a prism to reflect on March and Hollis. Hoffman's evocative language and her lyrical descriptions of place contrast sharply with the emotional scars that her characters must uncover and bear. Her novel is a haunting tale of a woman lost in and to love; it will enthrall the reader from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
-?Caroline M. Hallsworth, Cambrian Coll., Sudbury, Ontario
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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TONIGHT, THE HAY IN THE FIELDS IS already brittle with frost, especially to the west of Fox Hill, where the pastures shine like stars. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Painful but strangely moving April 28 2004
I picked up this book at a local charity store, having enjoyed Hoffman's style in other of her novels. I read it twice in about a week, and found its description of an abusive relationship painful, but reading Hoffman's prose is like swimming in the river. You step in, and are immediately caught up in its turbulent flow of emotion. I kept thinking, I know this story. I've read this before, haven't I -- but not in this form, not from this perspective. It's odd, all the characters live in this remote area with its dreadful weather, and everyone knows each other, and two characters from one family marry two characters from the other prominent family in the area, and the poor orphan from lowly background gets adopted but never loses his low self-esteem, and people KEEP DYING YOUNG. Seems so Victorian, I mused.
It wasn't until I was reading a different book, where the characters were discussing Wuthering Heights, that I recognized it. The characters were commenting that Hareton was going to make it, because he used both his head and his heart -- and the penny dropped. Hareton is Hank. AHA! And Heathcliff is Hollis, of course... Here On Earth is what might have happened if Heathcliff had got his Cathy back, at least for a time.
Did no one get this? NO ONE??!? I've read several reviews of this book, and so far I haven't read one that mentions it. It's hard for me to believe that book reviewers are so little versed in their classics that not one of them recognized this updating of the Bronte classic (with, admittedly, some twists). One reviewer calls Hollis "Heathcliff-like", but the whole setup is Wuthering Heights.
This book is not a great casual read, but I found it interesting that a good story is still a good story, even disguised. It all depends on the treatment, of course. Shakespeare lifted other people's stories all the time, and made them definitively his. Hoffman's prose is surprisingly lovely, given the subject matter.
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Format:Audio Cassette
I'm a little surprised to finally be saying this, but...

...I wasn't so keen on this book. Now, granted, I'll happily caveat that this was on an abridged audio edition by Nova, and I am a huge fan of Alice Hoffman to begin with, and this is not her recent novel. But, somehow, it left me a little cold.

Mostly, I believe it was because there was no typical Hoffman magic or mystery to the story. A woman named March returns to her home town with her daughter when her housekeeper dies. After the funeral, she finds herself drawn towards a young man who was raised in her household by her father, with whom she had a strong, nigh co-dependant relationship with in her youth.

They start an affair, the relationship definitely takes a sombre turn (or three), and then, all at once, the book sort of ends. The ending was almost trite, actually. Much like 'Second Nature,' this one didn't do much at all beyond mundane and angry relationship angst, and it left me a little tired on behalf of all the characters concerned. Indeed, there wasn't a single character in the tale for whom I felt relief, or gained a sense of 'they've been saved' about, which is something I adore about Hoffman usually. Even the language seemed less lyrical and immediate. All of that isn't to say the book was bad, just not up to Hoffman's usual wonder-inspiring work.

Perhaps I just need a break from her, but either way, this in no way reached the intense wonderful levels of writing I know and love Hoffman for, like in 'Blue Diary,' 'River King,' 'Practical Magic,' 'Local Girls,' and 'The Probable Future.'

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Sad and Compelling Story Jan. 21 2004
By Reader
I finished this book last night and I still can't get the sad story of March and Hollis out of my mind and heart. A book such as this one draws you in, makes you feel so much for the characters that it's hard to let them go. I found myself having a love-hate relationship with the character of Hollis (the so-called Heathcliff character); it seems as though most people who read this book really grew to hate Hollis. In my opinion, it's only a great author who can make you feel sympathy for the villain, and that is exactly what the author made me feel for Hollis. Although his behaviour becomes despicable and inexcusable, I couldn't help seeing him as a broken man; the author skillfully does this by focusing on memories of him as a boy. I did find myself becoming frustrated with March at times; the way she ignores her daughter and seems to become completely unaware of what is going on around her. The end of the book was particularly poignant for me. For all of those who had trouble understanding why March would stay with someone like Hollis, I think the author explains it all very well in the last chapter. One of my favorite lines in the book: If this is love, they better call it something else.
This is a great book by a great writer.
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I can't call this a love story. At least, not the story of March and Hollis. It wasn't love, it was control and a deep seated hatred of humans on the part of Hollis. Hollis, the definition of "sociopath", which this book defines better than does, as "One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior" was detestible, yet brilliant. Anti-social was only part of this guy's problems. There was also his need to control, as well as maladjustment possibly caused by PTSD.
But I get ahead of myself.
I liked March and Gwen when they arrived in Jenkintown for Judith Dale's funeral. I even liked March's brother Alan. Getting into the story of the past, I was appalled by Alan's treatment of "the boy" as he called Hollis when he first arrived in their home. Hollis was well treated by the adults and March, but not by Alan and his friends. Still, he didn't seem to be broken then. I still liked Hollis when he was gone from March, because I didn't know what he was doing.
I started to loathe him when he returned and started calling March, who had moved away and married Richard, a man Hollis viewed as one of his rivals in property ownership and respect of the community. The statement that turned me around on him was when he told the very pregnant March, "you care more about that baby than you do about me." Yup, I would have said. I sure do. "That" baby is my baby and you are an adult. Grow up. Warning bells would have gone off for me, but they didn't for March. Too bad.
Gwen certainly reformed when she found something outside of herself to care for in the former racehorse, Tarot. I could visualize that the horse loved her and responded well to her because he was reminded of the gentle Belinda, his former rider and mistress.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars B-o-r-i-n-g!
I came across this book at a garage sale, and because it said it was one of Oprah's Book Club selections, I couldnt wait to read it. Ugh. Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Mary Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
I found this book to be a great psychological thriller, sad but great.
When March and her daughter Gwen take a trip to the mother's childhood home of near Boston, little do... Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by L. Hall
3.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment
I got about halfway through this book when I simply couldn't take it anymore and started leafing through till the end. Read more
Published on March 31 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT WHAT I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE.
I liked reading this book but just was not all that pleased at the end. It was kind of strange.
Published on Feb. 13 2004 by Rachel Dawson
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I've read most of the Oprah's Book club selections and just got around to reading this one. I was expecting similarities to Wuthering Heights, but this is just a rehash 90's... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Book Description:
After nineteen of living in California, March Murray and her fifteen-year-old daughter Gwen come home. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003 by Jen
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Book Description
After nineteen years of living in California, March Murray and her fifteen-year-old daughter Gwen come home. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003 by Alyssa LePage
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem, though slightly flawed
I was angry with Ms. Hoffman for keeping me up past my bedtime on a work night, but I had to know what happened to the star-crossed lovers of Here on Earth. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating read
Some reviewers seem to hate this book for stealing the plot of Wuthering Heights. I, never having read Wuthering Heights (and now confused about whether I should bother), still... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2003 by pitredish
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