Lookout y’all, it’s re-read time!
Alice Hoffman used to be a favorite author of mine; we slowly went our separate ways after The Museum of Extraordinary Things. There was no big breakup; we just grew apart. We wanted different things. The separation was so slow and gentle that I forgot that she was an author that I really liked, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a new prequal to Practical Magic hitting the shelves, oh wait, there already was a prequal? This is another prequal? Where have I been! Despite treading into many uncomfortable and unhappy territories, I have always thought of Alice Hoffman as, to me at least, “comfort reading”. 2020 has been, uh, A YEAR- so why not dive into some comfort reading? Practical Magic series, here we come!
In order to get to the new additions (pre-ditions? how do we talk about later-date prequals? discuss), I needed to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). It’s been close to 20 years since I first experienced Practical Magic, and oops! I did not remember much! Turns out, most of what I remembered was from the movie! Double oops! Seriously though, who could forget Nicole Kidman’s red hair?
For the uninitiated, Practical Magic is the story of two sisters, the women who raised them and the women they raise. The Owens family traces a strong matrilineal line (what’s up, prequels!) that leads us to Jillian and Sally; orphaned sisters raised by eccentric aunts. Are they witches? Yes! No! Maybe! Are all eccentric women witches? A little bit! Is every woman who does not fit the standard role of mother in a Nuclear Family eccentric? I guess so! My biggest complaint when it comes to Practical Magic isn’t as much a complaint as it is an observation: at the height of the girl-power-witchy-woman-woohoo-sisterhood adventures, things were (and still are, really) SUPER heteronormative. What drives women together? Men! What drives them apart? Men! What drives their desires? Men! What drives their disgusts- you guessed it, men! I like this story, and I like the people within, but women are only friendly with each other if they are related, men only exist to be boyfriends, and friends only exist to encourage or discourage your (heteronormative!) romantic relationships. I want more from my stories of friendship, family, and survival! Women have agency well outside of being driven mad by men, and GASP women also have romantic feelings towards people who are NOT men! Women can have romantic feelings towards more than one person! Women can have romantic feelings that don’t define their every waking moment! Women can also…wait for it…not have romantic feelings at all! for anyone! and be perfectly happy and whole!
I am curious about the prequals, but what I really want is a reboot through a 21st Century Lens! The movie tried a few different things, but overall it was a big “yikes”. I also keep confusing it with The Witches of Eastwick with Cher and Jack Nicholson, but Alice- it’s not you on this one, it’s me.