Cover image for Practical magic
Title:
Practical magic
Author:
Hoffman, Alice, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Berkley trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Books, [2003]

©1995
Physical Description:
286 pages ; 21 cm
Summary:
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 ...
General Note:
Originally published in hardcover by G.P. Putnam & Sons in 1995.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.6 14.0 105346.
ISBN:
9780425190371
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic .

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back--almost as if by magic...

"Splendid... Practical Magic is one of [Hoffman's] best novels, showing on every page her gift for touching ordinary life as if with a wand, to reveal how extraordinary life really is." --Newsweek

"[A] delicious fantasy of witchcraft and love in a world where gardens smell of lemon verbena and happy endings are possible."-- Cosmopolitan




Author Notes

Alice Hoffman, an American novelist and screenwriter, was born in New York City on March 16, 1952. She earned a B.A. from Adelphi University in 1973 and an M.A. in creative writing from Stanford University in 1975 before publishing her first novel, Property Of, in 1977.

Known for blending realism and fantasy in her fiction, she often creates richly detailed characters who live on society's margins and places them in extraordinary situations as she did with At Risk, her 1988 novel about the AIDS crisis. Her other works include The Drowning Season, Seventh Heaven, The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen, and The Dovekeepers. Her book, The Third Angel, won the 2008 New England Booksellers' Award for fiction. Two of her novels, Practical Magic and Aquamarine, were made into films. She has also written numerous screenplays, including adaptations of her own novels and the original screenplay, Independence Day. Her title's The Museum of Exteaordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, Seventh Heaven, and The Rules of Magic made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

/*STARRED REVIEW*/Magic, 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. (Reviewed Mar. 15, 1995)0399140557Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town. If a damp spring arrived, if cows in the pasture gave milk that was runny with blood, if a colt died of colic or a baby was born with a red birthmark stamped onto his cheek, everyone believed that fate must have been twisted, at least a little, by those women over on Magnolia Street. It didn't matter what the problem was--lightning, or locusts, or a death by drowning. It didn't matter if the situation could be explained by logic, or science, or plain bad luck. As soon as there was a hint of trouble or the slightest misfortune, people began pointing their fingers and placing blame. Before long they'd convinced themselves that it wasn't safe to walk past the Owens house after dark, and only the most foolish neighbors would dare to peer over the black wrought-iron fence that circled the yard like a snake. Inside the house there were no clocks and no mirrors and three locks on each and every door. Mice lived under the floorboards and in the walls and often could be found in the dresser drawers, where they ate the embroidered tablecloths, as well as the lacy edges of the linen placemats. Fifteen different sorts of wood had been used for the window seats and the mantels, including golden oak, silver ash, and a peculiarly fragrant cherrywood that gave off the scent of ripe fruit even in the dead of winter, when every tree outside was nothing more than a leafless black stick. No matter how dusty the rest of the house might be, none of the woodwork ever needed polishing. If you squinted, you could see your reflection right there in the wainscoting in the dining room or the banister you held on to as you ran up the stairs. It was dark in every room, even at noon, and cool all through the heat of July. Anyone who dared to stand on the porch, where the ivy grew wild, could try for hours to look through the windows and never see a thing. It was the same looking out; the green-tinted window glass was so old and so thick that everything on the other side seemed like a dream, including the sky and the trees. The little girls who lived in the attic were sisters, only thirteen months apart in age. They were never told to go to bed before midnight or reminded to brush their teeth. No one cared if their clothes were wrinkled or if they spit on the street. All the while these little girls were growing up, they were allowed to sleep with their shoes on and draw funny faces on their bedroom walls with black crayons. They could drink cold Dr Peppers for breakfast, if that was what they craved, or eat marshmallow pies for dinner. They could climb onto the roof and sit perched on the slate peak, leaning back as far as possible, in order to spy the first star. There they would stay on windy March nights or humid August evenings, whispering, arguing over whether it was feasible for even the smallest wish to ever come true. The girls were being raised by the aunts, who, as much as they might have wanted to, simply couldn't turn their nieces away. The children, after all, were orphans whose careless parents were so much in love they failed to notice smoke emanating from the walls of the bungalow where they'd gone to enjoy a second honeymoon, after leaving the girls home with a babysitter. No wonder the sisters always shared a bed during storms; they were both terrified of thunder and could never speak above a whisper once the sky began to rumble. When they did finally doze off, their arms wrapped around each other, they often had the exact same dreams. There were times when they could complete each other's sentences; certainly each could close her eyes and guess what the other most desired for dessert on any given day. But in spite of their closeness, the two sisters were entirely different in appearance and temperament. Aside from the beautiful gray eyes the Owens women were known for, no one would have had reason to guess the sisters were related. Gillian was fair and blond, while Sally's hair was as black as the pelts of the ill-mannered cats the aunts allowed to skulk through the garden and claw at the draperies in the parlor. Gillian was lazy and liked to sleep past noon. She saved up her allowance money, then paid Sally to do her math homework and iron her party dresses. She drank bottles of Yoo-Hoo and ate goopy Hershey's bars while sprawled out on the cool basement floor, content to watch as Sally dusted the metal shelves where the aunts kept pickles and preserves. Gillian's favorite thing in the world to do was to lie on the velvet-cushioned window seat, up on the landing, where the drapes were made of damask and a portrait of Maria Owens, who had built the house so long ago, collected dust in a corner. That's where she could be found on summer afternoons, so relaxed and languid that moths would land on her, mistaking her for a cushion, and proceed to make tiny holes in her T-shirts and jeans. Sally, three hundred ninety-seven days older than her sister, was as conscientious as Gillian was idle. She never believed in anything that could not be proven with facts and figures. When Gillian pointed to a shooting star, it was Sally who reminded her that what was falling to earth was only an old rock, heated by its descent through the atmosphere. Sally was a take-charge sort of person from the start; she didn't like confusion and mess, both of which filled the aunts' old house on Magnolia Street from attic to cellar. From the time she was in third grade, and Gillian in second, Sally was the one who cooked healthy dinners of meat loaf and fresh green beans and barley soup, using recipes from a copy of Joy of Cooking she'd managed to smuggle into the house. She fixed their lunchboxes each morning, packing up turkey-and-tomato sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, adding carrot sticks and iced oatmeal cookies, all of which Gillian tossed in the trash the instant after Sally deposited her in her classroom, since she preferred the sloppy joes and brownies sold in the school cafeteria, and she often had swiped enough quarters and dimes from the aunts' coat pockets to buy herself whatever she liked. Night and Day, the aunts called them, and although neither girl laughed at this little joke or found it amusing in the least, they recognized the truth in it, and were able to understand, earlier than most sisters, that the moon is always jealous of the heat of the day, just as the sun always longs for something dark and deep. They kept each other's secrets well; they crossed their hearts and hoped to die if they should ever slip and tell, even if the secret was only a cat's tail pulled or some foxglove stolen from the aunts' garden. Excerpted from Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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