Dark, Fiction, Magical realism, Well known books, Women's

Everything Should Be Practical – Even Magic Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

As we’re nearing the release of The Rules of Magic, let’s look back to where it all began. Back in the 90’s when I was but a wee lass, there was Practical Magic. Which wasn’t just a book – it became a beautiful movie too! In fact, that’s how I come to know this wonderful story of Alice’s – through seeing the movie when I was a child, or maybe a teen.

And then we waited for years, without even knowing we were waiting.

I was really excited to read Practical Magic, because I really loved the movie, but I suppose that’s what made my experience worse than it would have been, had I approached the book as a blank slate. The movie has quite a few differences to the book, so if you expect the same story – forget about it. That’s not necessarily bad, of course – it’s just that after having loved the movie as a young teen, it’s impossible to, well… Unsee it.

Had I read this book on its own though, I would probably have loved it much more – as I love nearly anything that Alice writes. You can feel the same style, the same passion – even though it’s an older work of hers. However, I had a few problems with this story – for example, the portrayal of love. The book makes it sound like physical love is pretty much all there is to it! I refuse to accept that – certainly, that’s not my experience. Where is companionable love, where’s soul love? Where is the rest of it? Aside from that, it makes it sound like only incredibly beautiful women are loved. That’s… harmful. I know the author probably did not mean it that way, but having always felt one of the plainer ladies myself, it was… a little hurtful to read it. We are constantly barraged with messages that we’re not beautiful enough – every woman is today. We don’t need to be told that only pretty ones are loved, moreover – we absolutely don’t need to be told that one pretty woman’s looks can act like a spell and take true love away. Certainly that’s not true, or at least – not always true? There’s definitely more to love than that!

If you can put that aside though, the book grows on you. Alice has such a beautiful writing style, she can tell a story like it’s a fairytale, and maybe a dark, adult one – that’s what I love about her books the most. Reading her works, you feel as if the world you’re reading about (and quite possibly, the world you’re even living in) is not as simple as it seems – it’s magical, secretive and probably quite dark.

Other than that, I think it was a job well done writing about an abusive relationship and shedding light on all of the feelings and causes of one. Alice always does a splendid job with these things. But even though the feelings are very well written, this novel doesn’t come too close to the characters – it’s more like a camera that keeps watching from the corner of the room – not making assumptions, not judging the characters – it’s just there.

Differences from the movie? Let me use a spoiler tag for those who still want to read Practical Magic. The story doesn’t take place in the aunt’s house, that’s one thing. Another thing – the whole tone of the story. The fact that the sisters are never absolved in front of the community. The fact that Gillian never did kill her husband. Or the fact that Sally’s girls are not little, they’re almost grown. The fact that Gillian takes a lover too, it’s not just Sally who’s got a happy ending. And also? Gillian is blonde!

You are supporting this blog by buying the book from Book Depository using this link. Also – keep your eyes peeled, as I’ll be publishing the review for The Rules of Magic sometime in October!

Have you read Practical Magic? How did you like it? Are you looking forward to the publishing of The Rules of Magic?

If you enjoyed my post, please take a look at our Family’s Etsy shop! Thank you for your support to our family business ❤️