Practical Magic
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Practical Magic

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  24,243 ratings  ·  1,683 reviews
The bestselling author of Second Nature, Illumination Night and Turtle Moon now offers her most fascinating and tantalizingly accomplished novel yet -- a winning tale that amply confirms Alice Hoffman's reputation not only as a genius of the vivid scene and unforgettable character but as one of America's most captivating storytellers.

When the beautiful and precocious siste...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Berkley Trade (first published 1995)
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The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
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Favorite Magical Realism Novels
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 13, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Adult Fairytales
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Theresa
Remember being addicted to dark fairytales like Aesop’s & Grimm’s as a kid? Then at around ten figuring it’s time you grew up, setting them aside & heading over to the library teen section? Have you missed them all these years? Check out magical realism. Hey, the same twisted supernatural tales, riddled with conflict & hidden meanings –repackaged for grownups!
Practical Magic was published long before another of this genre I just read - Garden Spells - they’re both good and pretty si...more
Leah
[Review written by my high school self]
I used to love the movie for this book, and I didn’t even know until after I had seen it that it was originally in book form. After finally getting a copy of the book and reading it, something magical happened: I didn’t know which one I liked better. Usually, having to decide favorites between the book and the movie is very easy. Except in the case of Grisham's The Pelican Brief, I almost always prefer the book versions. In some cases (as with Gone with th...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
This is a really good book. I couldn't put it down. It's good as many genres, coming of age, romance, fantasy, family drama, all of the above. It's so well-written and the language is beautiful and affecting. The words painted an image that was vivid and alive in my mind. Strangely enough, I pictured Sandra Bullock, who plays her in the movie, as Sally. I loved the extended narrative about Sally's daughters, which was missing from the movie. It seems as though they are going to repeat the patter...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I was a little hesitant about the rating to give this book. There are what I would call, good moments. Mostly I don't care for it. There is an odd streak of amorality underlying it (I can just hear someone asking "who's morals are you talking about"). You have the two old ladies referred to as "the aunts" who raise a young girl to be selfish, obstinate, and rebellious (treating these as the best of good desirable traits) and then wondering that tragedy follows. There are shifting personalities i...more
bookczuk
I just love this book, really. It makes me smile just to think about it. I've read it twice now, and in a year or so will be ready for a re-read. The movie is good, too, but I love the book best, An Utterly Delightful novel about the magic of life.

From the Publisher
Practical Magic is a tale of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, brought up by their two elderly guardian aunts in a world of spells and exotica from which they eventually escape - one by running away, the other by marrying - but wh...more
Monica!
I think it’s official that I’m not a super-huge fan of Alice Hoffman.

This book just dragged for me. “For Christ’s sake!” I would shriek at the endless pages, “If I have to hear ONE MORE DESCRIPTION of how the sight of Gillian’s neck causes grown men to drop their wives and either propose or accidentally drive into telephone poles, I WILL CLAW OUT MY EYES!”

I didn’t, but it was close.

I couldn’t figure out exactly what the deeeep meeeaaaaning was behind the writing. Was it, “Go ahead and kill your...more
Racheal
This is one of those rare examples of the movie being better than the book. Yeah. I somehow managed to get through it, but this book was like one never-ending series of mood-setting lists. An example:


"Sally thought long and hard each time she hung up the phone. She thought about the girl in the drugstore and the sound of Antonia’s footsteps on the stairs when she went to bed without a good-night hug. She thought about Michael’s life and his death, and about every second they had spent together....more
Anna
This is the first time in my reading life that I can say that the movie is better than the book. I honestly wish that I'd read the book first, because the monumental let down of reading the book after the movie has been something I cannot reconcile. The movie is beautiful, the storyline is engaging and witty, and the characters draw you in and make you laugh and cry. Yet the book is so far removed from the movie, they are hardly relatable at all, with such flimsy linkages, you could actually see...more
Mandy Jo
This week’s headline? Call the corners

Why this book? break for fiction

Which book format? used first edition

Primary reading environment? on the couch

Any preconceived notions? love the movie

Identify most with? right now, Sally

Three-word quote? “years of practice”

Goes well with? vegan ice cream

Fans of the Sandra Bullock movie will be pleased to know that, although there are many disparities between the novel and the screenplay, margaritas are definitely present in the book.

Granted, they’re not call...more
Claire Beresford
For the first time ever in the world of book to film I thought the film was much better. I liked the nice aunts and the fact that Sally and Gillian stayed in their home town. However, without comparing it to the film, it was an enjoyable read; great depth that the film did not give. It was presented from all sides, including the new generation in Sally's children, this gives you an inside scoop to everyone's thoughts and actions. I believe the characters gets a little boring in the middle of the...more
Sharon
A recurring theme with the books I choose to read is that they more often than not have a film adaptation to accompany them. I know this isn't the best literary habit, and that I should be willing to branch out more into plots and subjects that interest me instead of seeking out the books that I am already familiar with in visual media, but often it follows that the book is better than the movie anyways, so it's a win-win situation. That was the case with this book. Purchased at a used book sale...more
Amanda Nuñez
I freely admit that I saw Griffin Dunne's film adaptation before reading the novel itself, so I had high expectations. What I'm about to say next is rare for me: I was actually very disappointed with this book. Yes, it delved nicely into the intricate relationships between the sisters, their aunts, the psychotic boyfriend, etc., but the fact of the two sisters being witches was barely mentioned, much less any detail regarding their magical abilities. This was one of -- if not THE -- main reasons...more
Kaora
3.5 Stars

I admit I picked this up just because I have seen the movie and wanted to compare the two.

I found this book a bit dull to start with and I struggled to get into it. I can't stand insta-love. And this book is all about insta-love. Granted it is about two beauuutiful witches, that drive men crazy, but still. Other than this not much seems to happen in the first half of the book.

However after trudging through the first part of the book, it started to pick up and I found myself immersed en...more
Gina
There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain…

When their parents died, Sally stepped up to bat, calming the sitter down long enough to have her riffle through her mother’s address book and called the aunts. If the aunts didn’t step up to the plate, Sally and Gillian would become wards of the state.

The aunts took them in. While growing up, Sally and Gillian are teased and tormented while growing up, asll all Owens daughters are. Gillian, the youngest, rude and selfish, runs...more
Paige
2.5 stars.

This book was a mixed bag for me.On the one hand, I pretty much dig the writing style and the mood that Alice Hoffman sets in this one. I tend to like magic realism, and this is the "chick lit" version. It was another seasonal fall read for me, and I was pretty receptive to what it had to offer. It seems like a good book for cooling weather & lengthening nights.



I also enjoyed the family element, and all the relationships between women. The book dealt (fairly compassionately) with i...more
Laima
I really enjoyed reading Practical Magic.

This story is about the Owens family women who all seem to have special powers. Gillian and Sally are orphaned at a young age and go to live with their two elderly aunts in a Massachusetts town. The family has lived in the old and creepy house for over 200 years. The two girls are teased by other children who suspect they are witches. A bunch of black cats even follow the girls to school one day. Tired of being different Sally and Gillian long to escape...more
Julianna
I wanted some light reading to get though January especially since the last book I read was an 800 Dickens novel, and this book fit the bill perfectly. I even ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would! It had just the right amount of what I guess would be called magical realism, and I loved the imagery (two sisters growing up in a run down mansion with two old aunts, it sounds like an Edward Gorey book!) and the moodiness. It seemed like there was a thunderstorm gathering in ever scene, w...more
Season NicKruspe
How can it be that a movie based on a book is better than the actual book? I recently rewatched Practical Magic and again fell in love with the sisters and their story. I found out it was a book and became excited and hoped the book would expand on the movie and talk about parts that were left out.
The book, was the Cliff's Notes version of the movie and actually was quite boring.
It starts off with poor, old Sally (even at the age of ten) feeling sorry for herself and realizing that she's just to...more
Maureen
This book is so different from the movie, which I saw before reading the book, that for once I think I actually preferred the movie. I would almost call the movie a "derivative work", not even an adaptation. I was disappointed that the aunts barely make an appearance, and not at all like the characters in the movie. It was a good read, very different writing style (little dialogue, mostly a stream-of-consciousness style). I guess you just have to think of the book and the movie as being unrelate...more
Mimi
Even though I've read this book a few times before, it's just as good as the first time.

Alice Hoffman has what I call a cinematic style of bringing fairy-tale-like narrations to contemporary story and setting, specifically New England. So it's no surprise when this book was turned into a movie not long after publication. As a matter of fact, the movie is better known than the book. There are people who still don't know that it's only an adaptation.


Book
- What I've always liked about this book is...more
Madge
After watching the movie (which I loved) and hearing good and bad reviews about this book, I had my hopes up, but I was prepared for a letdown. Turns out I didn't need to prepare for a letdown, though, because Alice Hoffman delivers with this book. Her writing style is a little different from what I usually read, but the story was captivating, the characters enchanting, and the overall it was a gem. I can't believe it took me so many years to finally pick it up.
Lowed
Perhaps the Best Hoffman book I have read. This gets a Five!
Hannah
During my move from Hawaii to the middle of the US I unwittingly packed my Kindle charger and was therefore deprived of all the literature that I wanted so desperately to read. Also, being the time of season of Halloween I was watching the movie Practical Magic and saw in the credits that the movie was based off of Alice Hoffman's book. I thought it would be the perfect read for Halloween! Unfortunately, I am yet again faced with another book where the movie was significantly better than the boo...more
Jamie
I have lost count of how many times my eyes filled with tears while reading this book.

Practical Magic is nothing like it's counterpart movie. The names of the characters are the same, and that is about it. I loved the movie as a teen growing up, and it will always have a soft spot in my heart. Who wouldn't love it? Even though the book was so different from the movie, I loved the book just as much and for way different reasons.

The flowing ideas of love throughout the book was fascinating. I love...more
Karen Powell
I had a poor opinion of Hoffman's writing after I read her later novel Here on Earth, her tribute to Wuthering Heights. That novel put me under the impression that Hoffman didn't get characters at all. After reading Practical Magic, I take that back. This novel is an extraordinary good character study of two vastly different sisters, and the two daughters of the one.[return][return]Fans of the film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman will get a different story here, but the central action...more
Kat
Basic Plot: Gillian and Sally are sisters from an unusual family that needs both love and magick to solve the problems facing them.

I have to confess, I saw the movie first. I saw it when it first came to theatres, and it has been my go-to movie whenever I’m feeling lost or down. I deliberately put off reading the book for a long time, because I was terrified of the movie/book disconnection that usually happens. I didn’t want to start hating one of my favorite movies, because of the inevitability...more
Meagan
I have just finished devouring all of Sarah Addison Allen's writing, and it's left me with the taste for magical realism. I've read, and loved, Alice Hoffman before, but somehow I've never managed to read Practical Magic. While Hoffman and Allen share a talent for magical realism, in the end they're very different authors. Perhaps that's because Allen's novels are steeped in the American South, while Hoffman's books are so firmly set in New England. Both authors are wonderful, but Alice Hoffman'...more
Diane
I picked up this Alice Hoffman book because I had really enjoyed her novel, "The Red Garden" and wanted to read more by her. Years ago I saw the B-movie that was based on this, but the Practical Magic movie was so forgettable that I was able to read the book with fresh eyes.

It's the story of two young sisters whose parents are killed and they are adopted by their aunts, who have magic powers. The sisters have opposite personalities and very different ideas about men, love and family. When they...more
Kelly
Cheat (chet) n.
1. a fraud.; swindle. 2. a swindler-vt.

It seems that I am a self-sabatoger of pure, unadulterated happiness when it comes to ill-luck. Most of the time, people are nasty enough to cheat on you. But what really rots is when you do it to yourself. In this instance, I will eat my 80% caoco without hesitation. Guilt must always be reserved for the story that truly deserves it. Though Hoffman's attempts at hilarity are commendable. But the hubby could have moved out of the way. He cou...more
Jessica Meigs
This review is more of a 4.5 out of 5.0 stars (but Goodreads doesn’t allow for half stars).

I love, love, LOVE this book! I've had it on my Nook for a while, but I hadn't had the chance to really sit down and read it until I was assigned to for my Fantastical Elements in Fiction class at college, and I'm SO glad that it was assigned.

I’m sure there are at least a few folks out there who have at least seen the movie Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Don’t go into the book think...more
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Practical Magic 18 135 Jul 13, 2013 04:36PM  
Reflections Book ...: October 2010 1 3 Feb 24, 2013 12:16PM  
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  • The Works Of Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion)
  • Girl's Guide to Witchcraft (Jane Madison, #1)
  • Of Bees and Mist
  • Chocolat (Chocolat, #1)
  • The Onion Girl (Newford, #11)
  • Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker
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  • Joy School (Katie Nash, #2)
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
The Dovekeepers Here on Earth The Ice Queen The Red Garden The Story Sisters

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“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left 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.” 711 likes
“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.” 433 likes
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