In one word: Lasting
Cannonball Read Bingo: Holiday
This is at least my fourth time reading Practical Magic; at this point in my life, I consider both it and Alice Hoffman old friends. We may not talk a lot anymore, but we can always pick up right where we left off. Re-reading it is like taking a mini-holiday as it has become a cozy comfort read, and its magical elements make it perfect for a Halloween-y October book club selection, which is what got me to pick it up again. My memory is too hazy to determine if I first read the 1995 book or saw the 1998 movie, but both properties have a substantial piece of my teenage heart. Over the years, I’ve kept my thoughts on this book brief.
February 7, 2011 – Alice Hoffman is a comfort to me. She is one of my favorite authors. I just love the magical realism and the strong female characters. If you’ve only seen the film Practical Magic and never given the novel a try you are definitely missing out.
October 4, 2012 – Reread this book because my book club chose it, after watching the movie. The film is about 1/6 of the plot of this book, and I devoured this novel once again. I’ve read most of her novels, and love each and every one of them.
And what do I think about the book and Alice Hoffman in 2022? Hoffman isn’t one of my go-to authors anymore, and in a review of one of her newer novels, I posited that maybe I had outgrown her style. No matter, Practical Magic still resonates after all this time. A story of magic, longing, love, and heartbreak, this book follows Gillian and Sally, orphaned and now being raised by their unusual aunts. Both the girls and the aunts are largely left alone by the residents of their small town until night falls and women who need a little magic (to fall in love, out of love, and everything in between) come knocking and the aunts do that voodoo that they do so well. Gillian and Sally are night and day different, the first itching to escape, and the other desperate for normalcy, neither of which wants to follow in the aunt’s witchy footsteps. We follow the girls into adulthood; having drifted apart over the years they are pulled back together by the bonds of family that neither can ignore. No matter how hard they try, they can’t escape their destiny. Hoffman’s take on magical realism is very tempered, with equal parts of darkness to balance the light.
And now, after all these years this book has had new life breathed into it as it is now part of a four-book series. In 2017 Hoffman continued the story by taking us back in time to the origin story of the spinster aunts. In 2020 she snaked all the way back up the family tree to Maria, the first of their cursed line of witches, to see how it all began. The final book of the series, released in 2021 takes place after the original Practical Magic and brings the characters of that book to their conclusion. As I haven’t read it yet I can’t say much about it other than it’s on my to-read list and sure to bring a pleased smile to my face.