Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

I saw the movie Practical Magic years ago, but it is only now that I got around to reading the book.  It has been awhile since I saw that movie, but from what I can remember of the movie the book is completely different.  For those who have not seen the movie or read the book, the story centers around sisters Sally and Gillian and the generations of Owens women that came before and after them.  After their parents death, the sisters moved in with their elderly aunts.  For generations, the Owens women have been blamed for whatever went wrong in their Massachusetts town.  I can't remember if the word is ever actually uttered, but essentially the people think the Owens women are witches or at least that something is odd about them.  Unfortunately for Sally and Gillian this translates into being bullied and teased by the other children. 

Though they are as different as night and day, with no others friends the sisters cling to each other.  Gillian is carefree and careless.  She falls in and out of love, marries and remarries several times over, and drifts from one town to another.  With no responsible adults in sight, Sally becomes the responsible one in her aunt's house, insisting on vegetables at dinner and making sure laundry gets done.  As an adult Sally is cautious, craving a white picket fence and a town where people don't whisper witch or cross to the other side of the street when she walks by.  Both sisters seek to escape their aunts and their Massachusetts town.  For awhile they do but in very different ways.

This was a pleasure to read.   I would place it in the genre of magical realism, which is becoming a genre I like more and more.  If you like stories about women's lives, this is something you might consider picking up.

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