Practical Magic

( 176 )

Overview

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers...

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well; as children, the sisters were outsiders. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, but all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by ...

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Practical Magic

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Overview

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers...

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well; as children, the sisters were outsiders. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, but all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back-almost as if by magic...

The newest novel by the author of Turtle Moon reveals what happens when magic competes with real love. At the heart of this tantalizing novel are Gillian and Sally Owens, whose conjuring spinster aunts raised them not with square meals and curfews but with magic spells and respect for the powers of nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Mark Childress
Ms. Hoffman's trademark narrative voice is upbeat, breathless and rather bouncy. She creates vivid characters, she keeps things moving along, and she's not above using sleight of hand and prestidigitation to achieve her considerable effects. She plays tricks with the reader's expectations by suddenly shifting tenses or passing the point of view around the room like a football. At one brief but memorable juncture, we see things through the eyes of a magician's rabbit. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Her 11th novel is Hoffman's best since Illumination Night. Again a scrim of magic lies gently over her fictional world, in which lilacs bloom riotously in July, a lovesick boy's elbows sizzle on a diner countertop and a toad expectorates a silver ring. The real and the magical worlds are almost seamlessly mixed here, the humor is sharper than in previous books, the characters' eccentricities grow credibly out of their past experiences and the poignant lessons they learn reverberate against the reader's heartstrings, stroked by Hoffman's lyrical prose. The Owens women have been witches for several generations. Orphaned Sally and Gillian Owens, raised by their spinster aunts in a spooky old house, grow up observing desperate women buying love potions in the kitchen and vow never to commit their hearts to passion. Fate, of course, intervenes. Steady, conscientious Sally marries, has two daughters and is widowed early. Impulsive, seductive Gillian goes through three divorces before she arrives at Sally's house with a dead body in her car. Meanwhile, Sally's daughters, replicas of their mother and their aunt, experience their own sexual awakenings. The inevitability of love and the torment and bliss of men and women gripped by desire is Hoffman's theme here, and she plays those variations with a new emphasis on sex scenes-there's plenty of steamy detail and a pervasive use of the f-word. The dialogue is always on target, particularly the squabbling between siblings, and, as usual, weather plays a portentous role. Readers will relish this magical tale. BOMC main selection.
School Library Journal
YA-Practical Magic is vintage Hoffman. It is the story of how three generations of New England women deal with the irresistible force of love. Sisters Sally and Gillian are as different as night and day; Antonia and Kylie are Sally's teenage daughters. All are caught in passion's snare in spite of their vigilance against it or disbelief in its power. Hovering in the background are the girls' great-aunties, Frances and Jet, who are really barely disguised witches. Using their heritage of practical magic-that is, magic that will get you out of trouble-each of the younger women deals with whatever love delivers, good and bad. YAs will be charmed by Hoffman's warm, mesmerizing narrative. The book is reminiscent in places of Gwendolyn Brooks's tiny jewel of a poem, ``Sadie and Maud,'' and even more of Sue Miller's poignant novel, For Love (HarperCollins, 1993). But even as Hoffman agrees with Brooks and Miller that ``grief is everywhere,'' she administers that sweet antidote, a happy ending. Her women are possessed by love, and transformed.-Marya Fitzgerald, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Donna Seaman
agic, fantasy, and full-tilt love-at-first-sight have figured in all of Hoffman's sexy, funny, and endearing novels, but they blossom as they never have before in her latest effort, a tale about four generations of Massachusetts sisters. The unusual Owens women are beautiful, with unforgettable pond-gray eyes; a blood-deep knowledge of the supernatural power of plants, animals, and storms; and pronounced sensitivity to love and evil. Sally, dark and practical, and Gillian, blond and wild, go to live with their peculiar and reclusive aunts after the death of their parents. Taunted and feared by the town's children, they long for an ordinary life far from their quirky aunts and their mysterious garden and the desperate, lovesick women who appear at their door after dark. Gillian heads for the desert and the company of dangerous men, while Sally finds love and bliss only to have her heart shattered. She flees from the scene of her tragedy with her two young daughters, works hard to achieve normalcy, and almost succeeds, but Gillian appears with a dead man in her car and the entire world reels. In Hoffman's universe, all boundaries between inner and outer realms are erased. Fear brings whipping winds, a malevolent spirit causes lilac bushes to achieve monstrous proportions, and love turns the air sweet and golden, melts butter, and makes everyone giddy. Hoffman has created a cosmic romance leavened with just the right touch of pragmatism and humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425190371
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/5/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 80,393
  • Product dimensions: 4.94 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author the best-selling The Dovekeepers and many other beloved novels, including Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortune’s Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children’s books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997).

Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
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      1. Hometown:
        Boston, Massachusetts
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 16, 1952
      2. Place of Birth:
        New York, New York
      1. Education:
        B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
      2. Website:

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 176 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (92)

    4 Star

    (47)

    3 Star

    (23)

    2 Star

    (8)

    1 Star

    (6)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 176 Customer Reviews
    • Posted September 3, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      Don't look too deep.

      On the surface this is enjoyable enough-- a great, fun romance story full of all the the right classic ingredients. Then add a smidgen of mystery and a ghost. Finish it off with the all-powerful themes of love, sisterhood, and family, all written with Hoffman's dreamy prose.
      Simply, this book is an addiction, gorgeous and well-plotted with fantastic characters and development.
      If you're a hopeless romantic looking for a very real story with just a touch of magic, this is it.

      15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 1, 2011

      I Also Recommend:

      Excellent Read

      Being a big Alice Hoffman fan, I enjoyed this one. it has a story that keeps you entertained for hours.

      11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 30, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      breath taking

      I just finished re-reading. I think it was even better the second time, though I dont know if that is even possible. This story is relatable for everyone - from a 16 year old girl like me, to an adult. There are so many twists and turns as you follow the lives of two sisters. It is magical and mysterious and it is incredibly realistic. Every time I read it I cry because of how the story touches me. Hoffman writes like no other. Must read.

      8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted October 29, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Very good read!

      Wow, this book was much better than I expected it to be. I saw the movie awhile ago and really liked it and it really isn't anything like the book. Hoffman's writing style takes alittle getting used to but it works very well. This is an amazing story of love in all it's forms and you really fall for all the characters in it. I only wish the aunts had been in it more, I really liked their characters.

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 19, 2012

      Love Alice Hoffman

      And this is one of the best. A little quirky, a little sad, a little magic...

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 21, 2003

      Cute Story

      I never watched the movie, but many people told me it was great. So instead I picked up the book. This was a cute and heart-felt book. Teaches the importance of family.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 22, 2002

      Fantastic Write!

      I haven't read to many good books lately and I was about to give up, but I thought one more wouldn't hurt, and now I'm hooked. 'Practical Magical' was so enchanting and had so many emotions I couldn't put it down until I was done with it. It was one of the first books I've read of Alice Hoffman and I'm hoping the other books she has writen are as magical and moving as this one here.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 5, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      The author of this book personally told me that the book differe

      The author of this book personally told me that the book differed quite a bit from the movie, and she wasn’t exaggerating. That is the reason I read it. The movie is one of my favorites. In the novel, the story focuses a lot more on the third generation, Sally’s daughters. They really only appear as children in the movie. Although, I love Alice’s books, in some ways, I liked the movie version better. It is so well done. However, it was great to read the book, because for me it expanded and deepened the story. I recommend it for everyone, whether or not you are a fan of the popular movie.
      Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”

      3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 2, 2006

      A great book

      I like the way Alice Hoffman blends reality, fantasy, and romance in the story. I have read the book so many times I've lost count. The affection and sympathy she has for her characters is also a help for the story. The way the book goes from one timeline to another is very well done. Truly, one of my favorites of all time.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 12, 2002

      ENCHANTING...

      I have read this book numerous times. There is no other writer who can create magic with her words as well as Alice Hoffman can. This is truly an outstanding novel.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted February 16, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      She Really Speaks Out

      In this book Alice Hoffman not only tells what it is like to be an outcast but she also told how witches are treated today. I'm a Witch and I get rocks thrown at me everyday, people call me a devil worshiper or a baby eater. It really hurts me. I don't even believe in the devil and I don't eat babies. I'm a nice guy and people would like me if they get to know me.

      2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted March 21, 2000

      I loved it

      This was a wonderful book, I loaned it to a friend of mine- who loaned to someone else and so on.. . I would love to read it again. Its one of those books that get better each time you read it. I guess I need to buy a new copy. I really recommend it. Its one of my all time favorites.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted July 14, 2012

      Alice Hoffman is a master of magic realism as a genre. Her char

      Alice Hoffman is a master of magic realism as a genre. Her characters provide both intrigue and delight.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 24, 2012

      Great storyline and magical theme weaved together

      I think hat the author did a great job portraying believable magic intertwined with a wonderful storyabout family and relationships. I thouroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted October 14, 2011

      Interesting

      Not my usual read, I got through this and it was ok. Kind of lost myself in it at times and had to trudge through to more exciting parts. Overall not bad, but def not something i would read more than once.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 13, 2009

      I loved it!

      I loved this book so much! It had so much in it. The story line was really interesting and I adored the characters. It's not really like the movie but that was ok. Usually I would get mad that the movie is different than the book but I love both equally! I would recomend it highly! Read it and enjoy!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 11, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      One of My Favorites!

      I really enjoyed this book. Alice Hoffman is great at conveying magical realism. This book sparked my interest in reading more of that particular genre. This book is invigorating and exciting. It also tells a lot about human nature and relationships. This is not your typical romance or sisterly bond novel. It is filled with realism with a hint of magic and mystery hence the genre, magical realism.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted October 29, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      good chick book

      i was livened up by this book. i found it very touching, very well written & beautifully told. anyone who has a sister would love to read this book! the characters were wonderfully portrayed

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 28, 2005

      outstanding

      this is a great book and i never thought it would be that good and she is a good auther then i have seen for a long time and she should make more books like that and people would read them but i know i would so .

      1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 23, 2004

      Enchanting

      Honestly, this is one of my favorite books. I recommend it to as many girlfriends of mine that I can because I loved it so much. The description is excellent, and the very plot is outstanding. So much better than the movie. Go read it, now!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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