Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman


Is everything Alice Hoffman has written as beautiful as Practical Magic?

Seriously. Because if all her writing is this beautiful, I want to read everything she has ever written.

I had seen Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic, posted by several of my favorite book bloggers, so when it was offered by the Book of the Month Club, I immediately selected it as my book for the month. —-> Side note: If you are not a member of Book of the Month Club, WHY NOT????? Click here to join. Like, now.

I will wait.

Okay. Did you join? Great. Let’s continue…

The only problem with receiving The Rules of Magic was that I hadn’t read Practical Magic. Although The Rules of Magic is a prequel and reading Practical Magic is not necessarily a prerequisite to reading The Rules of Magic, I still wanted to read it first. So, I grabbed a copy and jumped right in.

Practical Magic is about the Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian, who were raised by their elderly aunts. The long line of Owens women who came before them have always been considered a little more than strange by those who knew them; in fact, the Owens women have always had very solid reputations for being witches. However, readers are introduced to the idea of witchcraft not as the evil magic presented in many other texts, but as an intelligent manipulation of and intense connection with the natural world. As Sally and Gillian grow older, their lives venture down opposite paths–Sally marries a respectable local man and has two daughters, Gillian runs away from home and lives a hard life with many different men. When the sisters find themselves back together after eighteen years of living apart and Sally’s daughters begin understanding that their family is a bit different from others, they all have to decide whether to continue fighting against their heritage or to finally embrace it.

All beautiful elements to the plot aside, the first thing you should know about Practical Magic is that the writing is absolutely beautiful. Alice Hoffman’s lyrical style of writing and the insights she provides about life, love, and family along the way simply took my breath away at times. Although I normally read with a highlighter in hand to mark passages that I find especially meaningful, I didn’t even bother while reading Practical Magic. Not only would I have had half the book highlighted by the time I finished, but I found myself so incredibly immersed in the story that I didn’t want to disrupt the reading experience in any way.

Although this book is worth reading for the writing alone, the story itself is just as powerful. Although witchcraft plays an important role in the events of the book, Practical Magic is more about the power of love than anything. Hoffman’s presentation of love as an all-consuming force may seem a bit excessive at times, but deep down, don’t we all imagine true love as a sort of magic? Through the Owens sisters’ reluctance to accept their family history and believe in the magic of the natural world, I found myself making my own realizations about the modern reluctance to believe in the magic of love as well. However, Hoffman also does a superb job highlighting the power of sisterly and motherly love, the debilitating effects of losing out on love, and the detrimental effects of trying to force love.

I just finished Practical Magic, and I’m ready to get lost in The Rules of Magic now…and every other word Alice Hoffman has written.





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