In Hoffman's fictional universe, nature reflects human passions and sorrows.
Thwarted desire is echoed in spectacular thunderstorms; grief makes flowers change color; animals are drawn to lonely people; and rivers reveal their secrets.
At the beginning of each chapter, Hoffman describes a sweeping physical change in the weather and the landscape; this natural occurrence directly influences the moods and stratagems of the characters in the story.
The cool winds and freshness of October make the Haddan girls swoon with love.
The storm that ravages the newly built Haddan School dooms the school to a fate of tragedy and mishap. The black rain forebodes a black mood amongst the Haddan folk, foreshadowing the events to come.
In her recurring themes of love, marriage, family, and friendship, she infuses wonder in the everyday, subtly shifting from natural events to those of the supernatural. Although Hoffman's characters cope with illness, suicide...