Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman)

(Happy New Year!) As I love magic and mayhem and romances, I’ve been frequently recommended the Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman film Practical Magic. I finally found it on Amazon Prime, but I decided to hang on a bit, till I had read the book version that I found at my local library. Having now read and reasonably enjoyed the book, I am now prepared for the movie version!

Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Published: First published 1995
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback (Library)

The Owens sisters live with their aunts, two girls who couldn’t be more disimilar. Gillian, the youngest runs away from the town where the Owens are feared and ostracised, unlucky in love and never staying still. Her sensible older sister Sally doesn’t run, but it determined to be sensibe and not fall in love. Two children later, Sally leaves her Aunts behind and hides from her life. It’s all perfectly normal until Gillian turns up on her doorstep with a dead body in her car.

It’s a book about love, and the power of lust/attraction and the concequesnces and reprecussions of love. Gillian runs headlong into love, falling in love quickly and often. Sally does the opposite, and shys away from love. It;s about three generations of a family who are all incredibly different from each other. Thing Happen with the Owen sisters, and their aunt, and their daughters.

It’s a romance story, of the two different personality types in the family. Sally is the main focus, because it’s mostly about how Sally reacts to living with her aunts, to falling in love, having kids all while her sister is away living a nomadic lifestyle. Sally is very concerned with living a Normal life, and she gets caught up in it, and it can be a litle annoying. What is also annoying is the instant love thing going on towards the ends, but I think you’re supposed to understand it as part of the family’s magic. I liked the characters mostly, but they all get a bit stupid when they’re in love and that annoyed me a little.

I am curious to see how the film interprets the characters though, especially as the GIFs I’ve seen of the film show more of the sisters relationship with their aunts, whereas the book is more about their relationship with each other and with love. It was a pretty easy New Year’s read, and I’m kinda curious to know more about Frances and Jet (the witchy aunts) because they’re not the focus of Practical Magic, so I may read Alice Hoffman’s sequel Rules of Magic, but it’s not going to be high on my priorities list.

Practical Magic is cute and all, but I probably wouldn’t read it again. It’s a good exploration of family relationships, but it feels a little surface and inference the whole way through. I’m looking forward to the movie!

My favourite quote is the last line:

Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.

Practical Magic

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