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Practical Magic

Review

Practical Magic



"For more than two hundred years the Owens women have been blamed
for everything that's gone wrong in town."

With an opener like that, it does not feel like PRACTICAL MAGIC ---
Alice Hoffman's novel about a family of witches --- is going to be
a light read. And it isn't. It's a medium-weighted
one.  

Two orphaned sisters Gillian and Sally are raised by their
eccentric aunts in a big Gothic meets Victorian house complete with
lots of black cats, scurrying mice, dark hallways and velvet
drapes. Did we mention that everyone in the town thinks the aunts
are witches, and by association, so are Gillian and Sally? The
"Magic" in the title gives that part away pretty quickly. The
"Practical" element becomes clearer later when late night knockers
visit the aunts' kitchen for help --- practical help in matters of
love, passion, and well, you get the picture.  

And practical is exactly what the aunts are. They let life shape
its course through each of the two sisters. Gillian, fair and
beautiful as she is wild and whimsical, turns heads as often as she
changes her mind. Falling in and out of love from one week to the
next --- if not day to day --- Gillian is balanced by older sibling
Sally. Dark and dependable, steady and resolute, Sally walks
through life in studious fashion careful to avoid all of love's
pitfalls. Unlike Gillian. What bonds these two sisters, besides
their bewitchingness is their distaste for their home and their
desire to escape the aunts. Gillian vaults out first. Sally follows
later, her own two daughters now in tow and the memories of her
beloved and deceased husband trailing in her wake.

However, life has different plans for the sisters and escaping
their home forever is not among them. When they return to
Massachusetts, the story combines romance, fear and fate.

Hoffman's style is neither difficult or obscure to understand. Told
almost entirely through the third person, PRACTICAL MAGIC, is
readily accessible to a wide audience. It is neither dark nor
burdened by sexual overtones. It's a perfect read for a Fall
afternoon.  

Reviewed by Ashley Vaughn on January 22, 2011

Practical Magic
by Alice Hoffman

  • Publication Date: October 1, 1998
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425168468
  • ISBN-13: 9780425168462