October Book Club Pick — The Probable Future

This month, our book club tried to pick a book with a little “magic” for Halloween.  We’re going to meet a few days before Halloween to discuss.  We decided on The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman.  I finished this two days ago and I’m already starting to forget.  So, I’ll do my best with this review.

This book is about the Sparrow women of a small New England town.  Going back 300 years, a Sparrow woman is always born in March and on her 13th birthday, she receives a special gift.  One doesn’t feel pain, one can tell a liar, another see people’s dreams.  The newest Sparrow,  Stella, can see how people will die.  When she sees that a woman will be murdered, she asks her father to help.  He goes to the police, who don’t believe him.  Later, when the woman is murdered, he is arrested and the family’s life ends up in turmoil.  Stella and her mother, Jenny, move back in with Stella’s grandmother, Elinor.  The grandmother, mother, and daughter relationships are prominent in this story.

As I read this book, I had a lot of criticsm.  Now, I don’t remember it too much to share what that criticsm was.  Maybe that, in itself, is a criticsm.  I didn’t find this book too memorable.  I think I remember thinking that it reminded me of another book I read recently, Going Down South, about mother-daughter relationships, but didn’t do it as well.   

There were also a lot of names of Sparrow women and many stories surrounding these women over the centuries and it was difficult to keep them all straight.  The author did use one character’s master thesis to try to help tell these tales.  But, it was still a little too confusing. 

 Also, the Sparrow women’s “powers” were inconsistent or unreliable.  Of course, this did help the plot along and explain some of the romantic relationships.  I just found it kind of annoying.   There were romances, complete with confusion, resistance, and finally happy endings.  The book did wrap up nice and tidy, almost too tidy. 

Now, after all this complaining about the book, I have to say it wasn’t awful.  The story was okay and it kept me reading.  I thought it got better in the second half of the book.  And, I did find myself on bookmooch looking up the author considering getting some of her other books.  So, I must have been entertained on some level.  I just can’t seem to figure out my mixed feelings on this one.

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5 responses to “October Book Club Pick — The Probable Future

  1. I’m about 50 pages shy of the ending but have found to like this book much more than you. I haven’t had a hard time remembering the characters and feel that they were written with great depth. It should make for an interesting disussion!

  2. Interesting. I’ve only read one Alice Hoffman book, The River King, and LOVED it. And I’ve been wanting to read Practical Magic and own The Ice Queen but haven’t read it. Thanks for the review!

  3. If I start forgetting a book practically right away then I know there was something fundametally wrong with the story. Thanks for the heads-up. I think I’ll skip this one.

  4. This is a book I hope to get to eventually. It sounds interesting. I appreciate your honest review. I bet the numerous sparrow names would be confusing. I’ve only read one Hoffman book, “Skylight Confessions,” and it was okay.

  5. As much as I want to believe I don’t have time to read bad books, I like knowing having the comparison to great books. That doesn’t make much sense, does it.

    I think I have to be in certain moods to enjoy some books – maybe this was the case here for you?

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