Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

I couldn’t wait to read this book as I am a massive fan of the movie adaptation and yet had never read the book. I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book as I know the movie can be altered from the book to compress it into 2 hours or to make it viewable to an audience.

From the title it is easy to guess that magic plays a big part in the plot and although it features in hints primarily it doesn’t take long for the reader to think that the aunts are witches or possess some sort of power. As the plot develops it’s easy to see that this power has also been passed down from one generation to another. Compared to the movie, the characters are purposely depicted as good witches and the house even looks old and creepy as Sally and Gillian battle through prejudice and taunting growing up.

I really enjoyed the book, it was different from the movie in many ways but it was an overall enjoyable read. The characters were the same and especially Sally and Gillian seemed to possess the same characteristics seen in the movie. The book contained many more descriptions of Sally’s daughters and as a reader I feel I got to know them better and got more of an insight into their lives. The daughters played a bigger role in the book than they do in the movie and they seem to have a more concentrated power, almost uncontrollable and strengthened by their beauty. With this in mind I felt the old aunts played less of a part in the plot compared to the movie where they feature heavily given their abilities. They aren’t present for two thirds of the book, except for being mentioned in context by the others.

The book was written in three sections rather than chapters, it was almost like reading through different years, from when Sally and Gillian were growing up with the aunts, to when Sally moved away and started her own life and finally cleaning up Gillian’s mess. It was an interesting structure for a book but I did find it hard to put down as each section lasted over 100 pages and there were no other cut offs. I found the book particularly addictive, there was a lot happening on each page and a lot of action throughout the plot. I really liked Alice Hoffman’s style of writing in this book, her descriptions were extensive and I found it easy to imagine the setting and the characters. The writing is also very much aimed at an adult audience which was a nice change as I haven’t read a book of this style in quite some time.

No matter how much I tried I couldn’t leave the movie behind when I was reading this book and I worry it has altered my opinion of this book before I even opened the cover. I know this is clear from my comparisons above already, however as I got further into the book I began to appreciate it for its own differences and storyline.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars as I felt it was a great read, it was easy to follow, possesses an addictive plot, likeable characters and is very well written. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. For the first time ever I might actually say that I liked how the book was different from the movie because it had the feeling of revisiting characters I love and in a new setting. I would definitely recommend it and I can see it as being a book I will reread later down the line.


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