- Fizzy Thoughts: Practical Magic

Practical Magic

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman
First published June 1996
304 pages

I’m going to cheat and give you the summary from Barnes and Noble:

From Publishers Weekly

Her 11th novel is Hoffman's best since Illumination Night. Again a scrim of magic lies gently over her fictional world, in which lilacs bloom riotously in July, a lovesick boy's elbows sizzle on a diner countertop and a toad expectorates a silver ring. The real and the magical worlds are almost seamlessly mixed here, the humor is sharper than in previous books, the characters' eccentricities grow credibly out of their past experiences and the poignant lessons they learn reverberate against the reader's heartstrings, stroked by Hoffman's lyrical prose. The Owens women have been witches for several generations. Orphaned Sally and Gillian Owens, raised by their spinster aunts in a spooky old house, grow up observing desperate women buying love potions in the kitchen and vow never to commit their hearts to passion. Fate, of course, intervenes. Steady, conscientious Sally marries, has two daughters and is widowed early. Impulsive, seductive Gillian goes through three divorces before she arrives at Sally's house with a dead body in her car. Meanwhile, Sally's daughters, replicas of their mother and their aunt, experience their own sexual awakenings. The inevitability of love and the torment and bliss of men and women gripped by desire is Hoffman's theme here, and she plays those variations with a new emphasis on sex scenes-there's plenty of steamy detail and a pervasive use of the f-word. The dialogue is always on target, particularly the squabbling between siblings, and, as usual, weather plays a portentous role.
This was a nice, enjoyable bit of magical realism. Hoffman is a great entertainer, and if you don’t take it seriously, this is a fun read.

11 comment(s):

Beth F said...

How did this stack up to the movie? Silly me, I had no clue it was a book.

bermudaonion said...

I enjoy Alice Hoffman's work, but haven't read this one.

sherry said...

Being a huge fan of Alice Hoffman, I read this book when it was first published. And, I think it's the last book I read of hers. She lost me as a reader when she added magic.

girasoli said...

I have read 3 of her Stravaganza series - City of Masks, City of Stars, City of ? think it was flowers. I loved this series (but I pretty much like most books set in Italy). Her new one just came out recently - City of Secrets.

girasoli said...

I have read 3 of her Stravaganza series - City of Masks, City of Stars, City of ? think it was flowers. I loved this series (but I pretty much like most books set in Italy). Her new one just came out recently - City of Secrets.

girasoli said...

Ok, what is with blogger posting twice? Nothing happened so I clicked a second time. Guess it was really me with my impatience but I didn't mean to post the same comment twice.

Stephanie said...

I adore this book. There's just something relaxing about magical realism of Hoffman's sort. I want to emit the scent of lilacs! LOL One of my favorite books. I've read it several times, and I recently bought a copy from a thrift store. :)

Beth F said...

Ok. Between the review and the comments, I'm adding this to the ole wish list.

Jo-Jo said...

I do enjoy Hoffman but I haven't read this one yet...glad to hear you enjoyed it.

J.S. Peyton said...

I liked the movie. It had it's problems but I've always suspected that the book was probably better. I've been meaning to read this ever since. Sigh. There are entirely too many books that "I've been intending to read." Gah! When will it end?

Ladytink_534 said...

I loved this book the first time I read it and I vowed to read every book by her... and then didn't do it lol. I really, really should someday.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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