Practical Magic

Alice Hoffman
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers... 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...

Reviews

Reviewed: 2019-01-26

After reading the "prequel" (written much more recently), I was looking forward to Practical Magic. 

Sadly, I found in lacking in pretty much every area that I liked about The Rules of Magic (I've given up on trying to make links from my reviews on GR work.) 

I looked forward to a lazy listen from the library, and waited for a while to get the unabridged version. I think it's telling that the abridged version is one third of the unabridged. I'd say that's probably right - there's very little actual story. And very little actual magic.

This falls more into the romance than fantasy world, and while that's fine, it wasn't what I hoped for after reading The Rules of Magic. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the book, but this wasn't a match for me. I don't even know that I could give more than the most basic of sketches about plot. It felt very much all over the place. I wish she'd stuck with the ghost haunting the sisters. Instead it was a lot of tangential other stuff that made me lose interest and have to rewind to figure out if I'd fallen asleep or let my mind drift (no, just strange jumps that had very little to do with whatever the plot was supposed to be) multiple times.

This is the kind of book I like to listen to. It doesn't really require notes or underlining, so it's good for listening. But my time could've been better spent.
 

Reviewed: 2018-01-03
I hesitate to use the word magical۝ to describe this book, if only because it۪s right there in the title and I don۪t like to be redundant. But there really is something magical about it, a quality that I have seen in fairy tales and folklore but rarely executed with any success in contemporary novels.

Sisters Sally and Gillian are the descendants of a long line of beautiful, impetuous and independent Owens women. It is a matriarchal line, with each female descendant carrying the Owens name despite paternity, and with this name comes the weight of history and more than a few hints of witchcraft. The sisters are, as Hoffman describes, night and day; Sally is dark, calm and responsible, while fiery Gillian runs wild and breaks hearts at a whim. As children, they are shunned and taunted, and they desire nothing more than to be normal throughout their lives. But the prosaic is rarely in the cards for an Owens woman.

This is one of my favorite books of all-time. I read it for the first time when I was about 14, and was blown away. I've probably read it at least four times since then, and it remains enchanting each time. What really drew me in is the subtle hints of magical realism that permeate the story and give it a fairy-tale quality, while it still reflects "real" life in it's dilemmas and triumphs. Hoffman often writes in a style that allows the everyday to become subtly infused with just a hint of the mystical, keeping it just below the surface and subdued enough that it doesn't overpower the elements that are truly important, and this is one of the reasons she is among my top 10 favorite authors.
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