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March 10 , 2011

Blackbird House


From the great May storm in 1778 when John Hadley and his sons slip the British blockade off the coast of Massachusetts only to disappear at sea, the lives of the inhabitants of the wooden farmhouse on the cape, stranded amid fields of sweet peas and wild fruit vines and red pear trees, coil and weave around each other, right up to the present. Young Isaac Hadley is more interested in his pet blackbird and the star charts in The Practical Navigator than in helping to build the house; and Violet, a century later, with her stained face and her own ghostly bird, reads the same book, and finds that it's easy enough to trick a learned man, though harder to catch one...Larkin Howard is ready to sell his soul to buy the farm, but meets a woman who hears the whales cry on the beach; while in another century the young Farrell boy sees more than he should on a snowy night- and the pond out back is still dark and unforgiving beneath its deceptively golden lilies. By the 1950s, the farmhouse is part of a community of steady men and wayward boys, and women who make jam but still feel the ghostly breath of Cora Hadley, with her green fingers. As a second century draws to a close and summer visitors from the cities take over the countryside, the house can barely hold all its ghosts, but the tragedies are not over...

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