Wednesday, December 18, 2013

{Book Review} Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

1366744 Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 
Publication Date: June 1, 1996 Publisher: Berkley
Author twitter Author Goodreads
All Gillian and Sally Owens wanted was to escape from the eccentric aunts who raised them. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared, even into adulthood, brought them back--almost as if by magic. (SOURCE)

Four Stars

Contemporary, (Some?) Romance
Adult content

This is a book that has been on my bookcase for much longer than I can remember. I'd wanted to read it after watching the movie starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, but as always, there are so many books and too little time.

Finally, after deciding I'd waited way too long, I picked up my copy and dove in.
Now, I need  to make it a point to say I should know better than to compare a book to a movie (and vice versa). One would think I'd learned my lesson about this. Alas, I have not.

If I'm comparing Practical Magic the book, with Practical Magic the movie...well, I'm just going to stop myself there because the two are not the same. I love the movie and have in fact, watched it too many times to count. I can obnoxiously quote it. Since this isn't suppose to be about the movie, I'll move along.

Sally and Gillian [I LOVE that name] Owens were orphaned as little girls and forced to live with their two aunts. Since I went into reading this with the aunts already firmly placed in my mind I really expected lots of page time with them. Sadly, while they were mentioned they weren't a large part of the book so that was disappointing. I wish I had been able to get more of the girls time with them. Growing up in a house with two women that never married nor had kids of their own. They were clearly eccentric and I felt like I missed out on a lot. In my minds eye I could see them teaching the girls more but that didn't take place.

I found Sally to be an interesting character. She was very 'mom factor', desiring a more "normal" life. No magic. No witches. No name calling from the other children. She wanted the family everyone else had. From the start, Sally did all of the cooking and cleaning and taking care of everyone. She was completely the opposite of everyone else in her household; an overcompensation really.

Gillian on the other hand, was the 'wild child' of the two girls. She did what she wanted, when she wanted, how she wanted. There was no discipline as she grew up. I felt like she used losing her parents as a crutch and a reason for her behavior. Poor Sally tried to step in and be her mother figure but Gillian wasn't having any part of that. She is a brat. Rude and selfish. If she were a real person, she'd be the child you dread seeing come to visit your house.

I'd have liked to have known who their parents were. Even if it was just one or two paragraphs. I was curious mostly because I wondered how they were connected to the aunts.

Since the book spans Sally and Gillian's childhood, and adult life the reader gets to see Sally find love, marriage and a family of her own. The bulk of the book features Antonia and Kylie as well. In the movie the girls aren't aged as much as the book. They are into young adult age here so you see more of them going through a lot of the things Gillian and Sally went through. Antonia (the oldest via the book) is a lot like Gillian while Kylie (youngest in the book) is a lot like her mother, Sally.

While I enjoyed the writing style of Alice Hoffman, I felt like a lot of the details were too long and drawn out and unnecessary. Her wording is beautiful though.

How did I feel about the book overall? I'm really not sure, to be honest. There were parts I enjoyed, obviously, since I did finish it. But there was a lot I hoped to read and didn't get in the book. I think my problem definitely was the movie and the book were HUGELY different, so that kept sticking out in my mind. Had I read the book first I don't know what my thoughts would be. I finished reading it days ago and I'm still not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would.


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