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Practical Magic Hardcover – June 13, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Putnam Adult; First Printing edition (June 13, 1995)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 244 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0399140557
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399140556
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 0.99 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #142,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I adore the movie - the lessons it teaches us about family, love, and hope. (Magic too!)
But the book... well it’s not like the movie at all. Never would I think the movie would be better than the book, but here we are.
First of all, there’s hardly any “magic” in this book whatsoever. The old house that the aunts live in isn’t even where most of the book takes place. They’re not even characters involved in the book let alone supporting to the main plot.
The tense switch drove me NUTS. Present tense was used often - which is something I’ve never known a decent author to do. Characters constantly drowned in in their heads from one random thought to the next - which had no relevance to the story and or plot.
The Owens sisters were horrible people? I kept thinking to myself - “Sally is a miserable bitch” and “Gillian is a selfish person” and never, not once during the book did I feel a connection between the two, only resentment.
Then it’s the men. Every man is obsessed with the Owens women. And I mean stalker obsessed. To the point where they won’t leave them alone. But then those men are the lead romance figures of the novel????? Instant love with NO development regarding Gillian and Ben (the guy who stalked her for WEEKS after seeing her for the first time and deciding that he HAD to have her - both sexually and as a possession)
That’s not even the worst part. At this point in the novel (80%) we meet Gary. Gary who drones on in his head about Arizona, about his family members who have no relevance to the plot, and who CRIES ALL THE TIME. (Honestly??? What is up with that?)
I stopped reading at 84%, when Sally goes to tell Gary that her and Gillian killed Jimmy. They get hot and heavy in the car, and Sally decides that she wants to stop because she doesn’t even KNOW Gary (they met like, a day ago yet he’s already in love with her somehow, idk???) And he has ONE THOUGHT that I just could not get over:
“At this moment, Gary wishes he could grab her and force her, at least until she gave in. He’d like to make love to her right here, he’d like to do it all night and not give a damn about anything else, and not listen if she told him no. But he’s not that kind of man, and he never will be.”
HE WANTS TO RAPE HER. HE THINKS ABOUT FORCING HER. HOW IS THIS OKAY? I don’t give a s*** about “he’s not that kind of man and is better so he doesn’t” ... Alice Hoffman still wrote him to think about raping her.
At that moment, I decided I’d never read this author again. Because after all those scenes where Gillian cries remembering Jimmy raping her, then going back and forth into romanticizing it makes me feel like this book romanticizes rape - which was actually common in bodice rippers in the 80’s and 90’s.
And yeah, I’ll pass. This is nothing like the movie. No happiness, no family lessons and family bonding. Just pure misery and family drama.
In this novel, you get all the great magical prose as you do in The Rules of Magic. The storyline is similar, but with drastically different life experiences, content, and events. I loved that as it added to the whole Owens women are all destined for an enchanting life vibe.
I’m sure some want to know how it compares to the movie. You can’t compare the two. They are peas and carrots. I can’t say I like one better than the other because this novel is very different from the movie. With the novel, there is more depth about Sally and Gillian’s life from childhood to adulthood. Even better, there is more narrative for Antonia and Kylie as they grow into their teens.
I love the movie and I always will, but I love the book differently. Either way, I adore this family of sincere and driven women and the final page brought on the same dread as the last page of The Rules of Magic. I simply didn’t want it to end.
Practical Magic was not excellent. First time I would say the movie was better than the book. Not even sure they were the same story. Other than the sisters and the death of Jimmy, we have two entirely different tracks unfortunately.
Sorry I read it at all. The sisters were not interesting, Sally's children were annoying, the aunts were non-existent pretty well. There was very little magic and no real happinesss. The love felt obsessive and a bit disgusting. In this case, watch the movie.
Top reviews from other countries
The story itself is beautiful! There is magic in every sentence. I loved it.
The story revolves around Sally and her teenage children, and the issues that come along with being a single parent to teenage girls. Her wild sister Gillian turns up on the doorstep with a serious problem that she expects her older sister to help her with. The sisters try their best but eventually have to turn to their elderly witch aunts to help them. The only issue I have with the story, is that the aunts are kept on the sidelines until they're needed at the end, I'd have liked to have read more about them. The other thing is that Sally's love interest is introduced at the very end of the story and you read very little about her late husband. The story could have been so much more, i felt it was lacking substance. However, it is an easy and beautiful read and I did very much enjoy it!
I already knew from a friend and fellow reader that it was different from the movie - which is perfectly normal - but the difference is huge. The movie is one thing, the book another. The names are the same and a few minor details. That's pretty much it.
That being said, I liked the movie more. The book felt... odd. Well, the writing style, better said. The two sisters, Gillian and Sally were still the main characters, but the Aunts weren't. They were in the background. There were a lot of flashbacks - which don't usually bother me, except when the switch is so sudden, I don't immediately realize it is one, so I'm confused at first - and unnecessary details. Or just... details. I'm not one to enjoy details galore in my books.
The plot. Well. Kind of the same, except not really. Doesn't make sense, I know, but I'm trying to explain without spoiling. Sally's girls are teenagers; there's mature content in the book, Gillian has problems with a dead ex but not like in the movie.
I'm going to be honest, I was expecting magic; the magic the movie had and the magic I fell in love with, watching the movie. The Aunts were witches, Sally and Gillian were also witches. In the book, I couldn't really tell. Yes? No? Maybe?
Sorry, but I can't recommend this book. If you loved the movie, don't read it. If you haven't watched the movie, maybe read the book, definitely watch the movie. I'm pretty sure you'll love the latter more.
2.5 stars, don't think I'll be reading anything else by this author. As I said, her style isn't for me.
For lovers of the film, it is obviously quite different and I can imagine if I’d read the book first I would probably have been annoyed about some of the cuts and changes they made but doing it this way round I can kind of understand some of them. The book takes place over a longer timescale and in more locations than the film so they obviously needed to condense things down and just covered the main plot.
I really enjoyed this. Hoffman’s writing flows really well and holds your interest, I was completely gripped. My only complaint would be that she maybe tried to cram too many plot threads into the story and it meant some areas weren’t explored as thoroughly as I would have liked and the ending seemed a little inconclusive for me.
I love the Owens sisters; the different ways they deal with the difficult upbringing that they had were very realistic and in keeping with each of their characters. Although it is a novel with witchcraft at its heart it wasn’t hugely dark or gothic but definitely helped with the Halloween feels so glad I read it at this time of year.
I’d definitely be open to reading more of Hoffman’s work.
I can understand why people like this book, it has very pretty writing, but I found it too much of a struggle to find interesting.
There wasn't enough separation in the paragraphs between the storylines and even the change in narrative focus, which would switch up multiple times in one paragraph.
I think the most disappointing thing about this book is that a whole load of nothing really happened. There was a split moment of 'yes, things are finally getting moving' and then it just stopped?
It was akin to reading someone's first draft when they're still not sure which direction they're aiming for.
I’ll start by saying that I did enjoy this book, but - I had seen the film so many times before I even knew it was based on a book, this is one of those rare occasions when I actually prefer the film to the book.
Having said that, the book has far greater depth, and follows the lives of not just Sally an Gillian, but of Sally’s two daughters as well, who are older and play a much larger role in the book. For me, this added an extra dynamic to the plot which I enjoyed.
I also loved the magic element, which is not blatant but there as part of their lives in a subtle way, and which almost might not be magic, but then is clearly magic in some parts of the plot.
Overall, an enjoyable read - and I am now planning on buying the recently published prequel, to get the inside story on the Owens’ aunts!