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Practical Magic (2013. Auflage)
von Alice Hoffman (Autor)
Practical Magic von Alice Hoffman
Magic Realism (72)
Best Urban Fantasy (208)
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I’m going to say right off the bat that this review is not going to be fair to the book. And that is because I watched the movie back when it came out. And was obsessed with it (what teenage girl isn’t mildly obsessed with anything witchy?). I struggled because I am unsure how you could possibly name the movie Practical Magic if it was based off of the book that I just read. I kept a running tally and there are at least 20 pertinent plot lines that are different between the two!
This being said, I truly believe that my disappointment with the book relies solely on how much I loved the movie. Because the rest of the books in the Practical Magic series I easily gave 5 stars - they are all utterly amazing. So, I am sure this one is too - as long as you haven’t seen and loved the film version!
Good story about family bonds, but it felt like it was mostly exposition.
If you're scrolling through reviews debating on if you should read this one or start with [b:Magic Lessons|50892349|Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #0.1)|Alice Hoffman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1593355938l/50892349._SX50_.jpg|75786942]. I'm going to tell you, start there, not here. It will make this more interesting, and less mundane? I don't know what word I am looking for.
Next, if you're here for "should I read this, since I watched the movie". For me, having seen the movie before reading this, these two pieces might share the same name, but the stories are completely different. Comparing them would be like comparing apples and oranges. Character names may be the same, but each tells a vastly different tale with some similar plot points. I don't want to give spoils but here are light examples, this book starts when Sally & Gillian move into the Aunts house, and tells their entire life story before diving into the events of the movie. While some key points are similar, the story plays out differently so it's worth the read to then ponder over which of the girls choices did you prefer. Aside from that everyone is aged up, Sally's girls are in their teens, and the Aunts are in their nineties. So these factors alone, make for a very different story. TL;DR - Just because you watched the movie doesn't mean you will be able to predict the book.
Having read the two prequels, it is very obvious that when this book was written, the full Owens family history hadn't been flushed out yet. There are minor details that are changed / different compared to the lore that those two books build for us.
One of my favorite parts about this book is to see just how much Alice Hoffman improved her writing craft from the 90s to today. I'm in awe at the growth she had as a writer and a world builder. I would love to see her remaster this story to fit the current lore, and her current writing capabilities. I'm a huge nerd for watching writers learn the craft through reading their books, and this is one of the biggest glow ups I've had the pleasure of reading through.
So with that in mind, this book does not read like the prequels at all. It is much more narrative, and less whimsical history book. Which knowing this was written two decades ago, that doesn't disappoint me at all. It's a product of it's time, and where the writer was when she wrote it.
I am seriously curious how the newest in the series will be handled, since so much that was in [b:The Rules of Magic|34037113|The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0.2)|Alice Hoffman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1492802012l/34037113._SX50_.jpg|55038896] wasn't mentioned in here at all. (obviously/spoilers-but was mentioned in the movie so it makes it weird.) But I am still in love with this world, and excited to see where the Owens will lead us next.
Read this for a book club. We had read the prequel Magic Lessons before. I didn't really like that book and wasn't looking forward to this one. Yep, this book did nothing for me.
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If there is an author north of the border who has managed to successfully translate the language of magic realism into the American idiom, it is Alice Hoffman.
Indeed, the title of Ms. Hoffman's latest novel, "Practical Magic," says it all: if you are going to believe in magic, it had better have palpable and easily comprehensible results.
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For more than two hundred years, the Owens women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well; as children, the sisters were outsiders. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, but all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back, almost as if by magic ...
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)
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Sally and Gillian also have magic, which they work instinctively and sometimes involuntarily; Gillian attracts every boy in high school without even trying. After a childhood in which the girls cannot escape the tough realities of being shunned as witches throughout elementary and most of high school, Sally wants nothing more than a conventional life. Gillian, on the other hand, battling feelings of unworthiness, leaves home early and lives a peripatetic life with a series of men – some husbands, some not.
Most of this engaging story is told from Sally’s point of view once Gillian has left town, which means we spend a lot of time getting to Sally’s daughters, beautiful Antonia and magically gifted Kylie.
Because this is the story of the Owens women, the male characters are peripheral, but when it counts they are saved from the bland sameness of the typical male character in a women’s novel by their lovable quirkiness.
This is not deep literature; without the magic, it’s a standard work of women’s fiction that borders on chick lit. Women’s fiction and chick lit are fun, though, and Hoffman tells a story so skillfully that she makes it look easy. I’m mindful of the skill and sheer hard work it takes to discern which characters to develop, what life events to present to the readers, and how to do all of this while lacing the twin themes of magic and love throughout the story.
I listened to the audio version, narrated by Christina Moore. Moore’s voice has a wry, conversational quality that is perfectly paired with Alice Hoffman’s writing style.
I got the book from my local library. I renewed it three times, because this story, while fun and well-written, did not pull me forward. At no time was I compelled to keep listening, and several times I had to backtrack because I lost interest. This led me to slightly decrease my rating slightly.
I recommend this book for lovers of magical realism, women’s fiction, coming of age stories, and love stories. Is is the first book published in the short Practical Magic series. ( )