Thursday, December 28, 2017

Practical Magic

Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman

This autumn I was in the mood for witches, witches, and more witches. But not just any kind of witches, the somewhat spooky, somewhat believable, woman-power-filled witches. Okay, cross off the spooky from this list and instead apply the idea of charming and strange and here you have this book. It's such a great relaxing read, for even though it's exciting, it's the quiet moments of family and women that build this book up and make it something work reading.

While Practical Magic is set in the real world, our world, it's also kind of existing in its own little pocket of reality (beyond the fact that there are witches and magic) that's hard to explain except to say that it leans closer to Stars Hollow then any real world town has the right to. The magic does play a part in creating such a place, though the magic itself isn't flashy or "powerful" in the way you might expect going into this. All the magic is subtle, it's never really addressed as magic, and it's accepted by everyone involved (in a way/to a degree) as a thing of the natural and the supernatural all at once.

Because of this it should come as no surprise that the characters are the ones who make this novel really great. It revolves around three generations of women: the aunts, the sisters, and the daughters. It explores what it is like to be a woman at different ages, from different types of characters, and what it is like to be in a family of women at these ages. While the aunts don't get nearly as much screen time as the sisters or daughters it's just part of their character and characterization and plays well into the novel. (Plus, there's a new prequel novel that released this year ALL ABOUT THEM and yes I'm excited to dive into it). Not to say there aren't male characters and they aren't as interesting and charming, but they're really not the point of the novel, and as interesting and charming as they are, I was only interested in them so much as they built up the women around them.

There is romance in the novel and while it's meant to be a sort of focal point, for me it fell short. Mostly because it's not so much about falling in love and being in love as accepting the fact of falling in love and being in love. And even when there were younger characters falling in love it very much felt like a love story for an older, more mature audience (which I would not say I am, which makes sense why it didn't really land for me).

Which leads me to the plot which is definitely not for everyone. It's a very quiet book, more a character study than anything else, and I appreciated it for being relaxing and slow, but not to the point of boredom. There is definitely a through-line, and if you want to call that a plot you are free to do so, but the through-line really is just a connecting thread that keeps everything and everyone rolling and evolving and becoming better versions of themselves.

There wasn't much that I disliked except that I didn't really feel like the audience and so I felt like I missed out on some things. In that regard I do have plans to read it again when I'm older (so maybe in like 10 years). The writing was gorgeous and perfectly applied to the story; in this I mean the author knew what she was writing and she wrote it really, really well.

TL;DR? For a more mature audience this charming feminist fantasy will really land the spot. Its focus on the acceptance of being in love at different stages of ones life was a refreshing change even if I had little connection to it.

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.
Book cover linked to Goodreads. Book cover, author info, and description taken from Goodreads.
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  1. It's been a very long time since I've read this... I'm going to have to do a reread before I get to The Rules for Magic. :)

    1. I'm hoping for good things from Rules of Magic and I have a feeling you'll get to it first so I look forward to your review!

  2. I've just bought this in the kindle sale as I love the film. Thanks for a great review and encouraging me to read it sooner rather than later!

    1. I've never seen the movie but I'm very curious now that I enjoyed the book so much. Thanks for stopping by!


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