(Book) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This book is significant for me in a number of ways, the greatest of all is that this is the first book I have physical read (and not Audible’d) since March 2018. My vision for the longest time was so poor that I could barely make it through my work day and squint through the blur on the drive home. I am not sure why I felt the urge to pick up this particular book, but I did. And, I initially decided to “take it slow”, to “go easy on my eyes” and only consume the book in small bites. I say initially because I devoured the book in just at two days. I have been making sure to read with extra light, preferably outside when a little sunshine finds its way between the clouds or in the sunroom, midday.

I truly enjoyed the book. It was different yet familiar. The differences that stood out the most to me: the age of the children, the more divisiveness of the sisters, the appearance of the aunts maybe not “caring” (for lack of a better word) and that the story took place somewhere other than the aunts’ house. There are differences too numerous to note here, additional characters, additional scenes, etc. But the ones that stood out to me most are those above.

I live tweeted, as I read the book, bits and bobs that would jump up to me from the pages. Those were as follows:

(PM): For every evil under the sun / There is a remedy, or there is none. / If there be one, seek till you find it; / If there be none, never mind it. – Mother Goose

(PM7): …that the moon is always jealous of the heat of day, just as the sun always longs for something dark and deep.

(PM62): It doesn’t matter what people tell you. It doesn’t matter what they might say. Sometimes you have to leave home. Sometimes, running away means you’re headed in the exact right direction.

(PM99): After more than twenty years of flirtations and fucking around and refusing to ever commit, she had to go and fall in love with someone like him, someone so bad that on the day they moved furniture into the rented house in Tucson, the mice head all fled, because even the field mice had more sense than she did.

(PM103): She dreamed that the swans that haunt her on restless night were pulling out their white feathers, one by one; they were building a nest large enough for a man.

(PM): If A woman is in trouble, she should always wear blue for protection. Blue shoes or a blue dress. A sweater the color of a robins egg or a scarf for the shade of heaven.

(PM213): Always keep mint on your windowsill in August, to ensure that buzzing flies will stay outside, where they belong. Don’t think summer is over, even when roses droop and turn brown and the stars shift position in the sky.

(PM317): Always throw spilled salt over your 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. The end.

To the aged old question, which was best, movie or book? I cannot choose really, they were so different and, in their own individual ways, amazing. I loved both (the movie being in my top ten of all time and watched at least twice every year).

I eBay’ed a set of books by Hoffman, hoping that those are as easy to read as this one. In the meantime, I hope to pick up another book and read it in just as enjoyable a fashion.

Have you read the book? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments below!

A few bits of info on the book and author:

Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman novel).jpg

Plot Summary

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 also endured that fate: 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 darkened house, their love concoctions and their crowd of black cats. All Gillian and Sally wanted to do was escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back to each other, and to the magic they could not escape.

Alice Hoffman (born March 16, 1952) is an American novelist and young-adult and children’s writer, best known for her 1995 novel Practical Magic, which was adapted for a 1998 film of the same name. Many of her works fall into the genre of magic realism and contain elements of magic, irony, and non-standard romances and relationships.

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City and raised on Long Island, New York. Her grandmother was a Russian-Jewish immigrant. She graduated from Valley Stream North High School in 1969, and then from Adelphi University with a Bachelor of Arts. She was a Mirrielees Fellow at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center in 1973 and 1974, where she earned a Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

Alice Hoffman Bibliography

Novels

  • Property Of (1977)
  • The Drowning Season (1979)
  • Angel Landing (1980)
  • White Horses (1982)
  • Fortune’s Daughter (1985)
  • Illumination Night (1987)
  • At Risk (1988)
  • Seventh Heaven (1990)
  • Turtle Moon (1992)
  • Second Nature (1994)
  • Practical Magic (1995)
  • Here on Earth (1997)
  • Local Girls (1999)
  • The River King (2000)
  • Blue Diary (2001)
  • The Probable Future (2003)
  • Blackbird House (2004)
  • The Ice Queen (2005)
  • Skylight Confessions (2007)
  • The Third Angel (2008)
  • The Story Sisters (2009)
  • The Red Garden (2011)
  • The Dovekeepers (2011)
  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things (2014)
  • The Marriage of Opposites (2015)
  • Faithful (2016)
  • The Rules of Magic (2017) – prequel to Practical Magic
  • The World That We Knew (2019)

Young Adult Novels

  • Aquamarine (2001)
  • Indigo (2002)
  • Green Angel (2003)
  • Water Tales: Aquamarine & Indigo (omnibus edition) (2003)
  • The Foretelling (2005)
  • Incantation (2006)
  • Green Witch (2010)
  • Green Heart (2012)

Middle Grade Books

  • Nightbird (2015)

Children’s Books

  • Fireflies: A Winter’s Tale (illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin) (1999)
  • Horsefly (paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher) (2000)
  • Moondog (with Wolfe Martin; illustrated by Yumi Heo) (2004)

Short Stories

  • Conjure (2014)

Nonfiction

  • Survival Lessons (2013)

Filmography

  • Independence Day (1983) (writer)
  • Practical Magic (1998) (novel)
  • Sudbury (2004) (novel)
  • The River King (2005) (novel)
  • Aquamarine (2006) (novel)
  • The Dovekeepers (2014) (novel)

2 comments

  1. Such a lovely novel. I also like the movie, but although well done, it has to leave out so much of the characters and story out that I like the novel a smidge better.

    Hope that you enjoy the other Alice Hoffman you purchased on eBay. I have also read Aquamarine, which is good, but I did not enjoy as much as Practical Magic. I also listened to the audiobook The Story Sisters – which was very well done, but very dark. (I know you’re trying to read more visually than auditorially, but if you are interested in trying to listen to one of her books, this one is read by Nancy Travis, and she reads exceptionally well.) So her writing varies widely in subject matter, which can be very interesting.

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will put it on my Audible wish list. I enjoyed both the book and the movie for this, both being so different. I felt similarly when I read P.S. I Love You and realized how vastly different the book was from the movie for that set as well. I loved each in that case too, even though the stories were not really in alignment.

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