Sara's Reviews > Practical Magic

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
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Sep 19, 2011

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bookshelves: adult-lit

If your first introduction to Practical Magic was the movie, Step Away from the book. [for a second anyway] Have no fear in picking up the novel…But, I’m here to tell you it is nothing, NOTHING, like the movie. So much so that I found myself distracted while reading…

What do you mean the main story doesn’t take place in the Aunt’s house?

What do you mean half of the book is about Sally’s teenage daughters?

Will Sally ever catch a break in love?

Seriously I could go on and on. The differences are so vast as to make me wonder how Alice Hoffman ever sold the movie rights. She must have been fuming with the final product!

That being said…I really should have known better. Anyone who has read Hoffman in the past knows that a chick-lit story like Practical Magic (the movie) would not have been written by her. Hoffman’s tales are always more broken up, more cryptic and yet seriously detailed. In the book, the Owens’ tale is broken up into four parts. Sally’s daughters are teens and just as involved in their own life/love stories as their mother and aunt.

The book is really about how three generations of women adapt to life. How they run away from things, run into things, miss things, and hit the nail right on the head. It’s also a novel about sisters. How they interact and love each other. How no one will be there for you like a sister will. But mainly this book is about love its dangers and its beauty.

As always it’s Hoffmann’s ability to use magical realism to point out universal truths that really sings. While I’ve never seen air change color or plants react to my emotions. We’ve all felt the magic of the evening air, and had the scent of a flower bring out a longing for love. While in real life we find inspiration in nature…rather than nature finding inspiration in us! But Hoffmann’s writing is so expressive I dare you not to start to look for changes in the world around you.

What I love best is that Hoffmann leaves me with so many delicious quotes. The beauty is in Hoffman’s writing more than in her plot. That being said I’d like to complete this review with some of my favorite quotes…Because I love Hoffmann’s writing…

“A woman who was head over heels and wanted to make certain her love was returned would be happy to hand over a cameo that had been in her family for generations. One who had been betrayed would pay even more.” (19)

“They could see how love might control you, from your head to your toes, not to mention ever single part of you in between” (19)

“Certain facts of love she knew for certain” (30)

“Anyone else might assume Gillian is lying or exaggerating or just goofing around. But Sally knows her sister. She knows better. There’s a dead man in the car. Guaranteed.” (57)

“Antonia would be completely and utterly mortified to know that I’M A VIRGIN is printed across her back in black letters” (78)

“He wants it all to be the same and all to have changed.” (133)

“But not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about the boy she loved. Not a moment passes that she doesn’t wish that time were a movable entity and that she could go backward and kiss that boy again” (176)

“Although she’d never believe it, those lines in Gillian’s face are the most beautiful part about her. They reveal what she’s gone through and what she’s survived and who exactly she is, deep inside” (178)

“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.” (190)

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