#40: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

How did this turn into this?

Because Hollywood!

I haven’t seen the movie Practical Magic in years, but it’s one of those movies that makes me stop and watch if I’m ever flipping channels and it’s on.  I’m not actually sure if I’ve seen the entire thing.  I like it a lot though and picked up this book on a whim after reading some heavy non-fiction.  I thought it would be nice to relax with a good couch read.

As I read I kept wondering if this was the book the movie was based on or if there is another book called Practical Magic that was used.  I even went to  IMDb to check because, seriously… how?  My friend Jenn figures that  the script for that movie was waved NEAR a copy of the book once.  A few things stuck, but then they just did whatever was going to test well.

Happily, I liked both the book and the movie, but I really wish when Hollywood gets  a book and changes it, they should rename the movie and add Inspired By The Book “Blah Blah Blah”.  You’re just confusing people and making die-hard book snobs snobbier.

Here come spoilers, but you probably already know the plot, right?  And if you read it, you still won’t know all the hows and whys.

Gillian and Sally Owens have lived with the aunts ever since their parents died during a second honeymoon love fest.  There were never any rules and the girls did whatever they wanted to.  Sally is the oldest and decides it’s up to her to create and enforce rules for her sister and to try and bring some sense of normality to the house.

The problem is the aunts are witches and everyone knows it.  Although people go out of their way in order to avoid the house during the day, lovesick women will creep to the backdoor under the cover of darkness to beg for spells to grant their hearts’ desires.  Sally and Gillian peek into the kitchen to watch these women kill doves if it means the man they want will follow them no matter where they go.

Disgusted, the two sisters vow to never let a man ruin them this way.

Now older, Gillian fulfills this promise by sleeping with any man she fancies and getting married over and over.  You can’t get ruined if you’re the one in charge.

Sally, on the other hand, resigns herself to a solitary life until she crashes into a man and falls sick in love.  Luckily he’s felt the same way about her for years.  They get married, have two daughters, and then he dies.

Gillian is long gone at this point.  Random postcards show up and Sally never knows where she is, but she calls every single week, urging Sally to get out of bed and live.

Sally, finally broken by her outsider life, grabs her girls and runs.  She doesn’t want them to have the ostracized life she had.  She never had friends, she was constantly teased and she always longed for something normal.

Years pass and Sally lives her normal life in her normal house with her normal teenage daughters (whatever normal is for a teenage girl) and everything is the same and she is happy.  Or at least content.

And then Gillian shows up with a dead body in the car.

So that sucks.

Turns out Gillian finally fell in love with the worst guy possible.  He was violent when he was alive and he’s still fucking things up now that he’s dead.  Remembering lessons from the aunts, they bury him under the lilacs in the backyard and Gillian decides to crash with Sally for a little while.

When Gillian appears though, everything changes.  Sally’s youngest daughter falls madly in love with her cool aunt, much to the terror of Sally.  Sally knows that if Gillian is given an afternoon, she will undo thirteen years of mothering.  The two sisters pick up arguments they’ve been having since they were girls and it’s hard not to be on Sally’s side.  Gillian is a mess.

And then the dead guy in the backyard starts haunting them and un-burying parts of himself.  And then Gillian falls in love, which is impossible since she’s Gillian.  And then a cop shows up to find out where the boyfriend went.  And then Sally falls in love with the cop.  And then things get even crazier and it’s time to call the aunts.  So they show up and do witchy things and everyone lives happily ever after.

I really did like this book although I liked the movie better.  Keeping Sally in the aunts’ house instead of having her run off was a nice touch.  I liked that her girls became teenagers in the book, but I also liked them being kids in the movie to echo Sally and Gillian.  Nicole Kidman and her super short skirts were perfect for Gillian and Sandra Bullock’s crazy beautiful hair was made for Sally.  I liked having them in mind while reading.

If you’re looking for a relaxed beach read, snag this from the library.  Or if you just want to sink into the couch and not turn pages, find the movie.  It’s a nice rainy day activity.

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3 responses to “#40: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

  1. Pingback: pyrajane’s review #40: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman « Cannonball Read IV

  2. Practical Magic is one of my favorite movies, and now I need to read the book! Cheers!

  3. We do share a brain sometimes!

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