Friday, July 10, 2009

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Hoffman weaves a wonderful story in her bestseller Practical Magic. For 200 years, The Owen women have been blamed for everything that goes wrong, whether it be a common cold or an unexplained mishap. Gillian and Sally are the two youngest of the Owens line, who have inherited this ill-fate as well. When their parents die in a fire, the two sisters come to live with their two aunts. Instead of teaching the girls manners and good habits (like brushing their teeth), the aunts focus on developing the girls' magic abilities. However, the girls desperately desire a life outside of magic. For Gillian, that means a life of love and lust. As soon as she reaches the age of eighteen, she runs away to marry the first of many husbands, and live a life of self-gratification. For Sally, that means marriage, children, and a neighborhood that accepts her, rather than fear her. When Sally's husband dies and Gillian accidentally kills her latest boyfriend, the sister's (who haven't seen each other in eighteen years), come together to find support and resolution. When things don't quite go as planned, the sister's must call upon the aunt's to deliver them from disaster and ultimately bring the scattered family closer together.

When I first watched the movie in '98, I had no idea that the film was based on a novel. However, after reading the book, I can honestly say that besides the character's names, there is little the two share in common. The book gives a greater background on the characters, including Sally's two girls; Antonia and Kylie. Once Sally's husband dies, the rest of the book takes place at a house that Sally and her daughter's move to, rather than the aunt's house. The aunt's have much less involvement in the book than they do in the movie, and so on... I still hold the movie as one of my all time favorites, it's just quite different from the book, which is also very good. :) Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a modern-day fairytale.

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