Merry Meet and Merry Part, and Merry Meet again

Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Versus Movie--Practical Magic

How many times have you read a book, loved it, then gone to the movie based upon this book...and were very disappointed in the movie? Hollywood has a tendency to change plots, leave out your favorite parts of the book, alter characters, even change the endings. So how about seeing a movie, loving it, and then, later reading the book the movie was based upon?

Last week I was in my favorite book store looking for a particular title, when I stumbled upon a book I have never read. I love the movie; so do a lot of other people, especially witches in blogland, and many non-witches too.  Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, copyright 1995 by Alice Hoffman) is a wonderful movie filled with unique characters, great plot, lovely actors, beautiful house and other scenery. There are many great scenes that live on in our memories."Midnight Margaritas" is one that comes to mind, with the lively "Lime in the Coconut" song. Magic, murder, hauntings, sisterly relationships, love, sadness, bliss. All these are in the movie. You have to love it, it's...well, magical!!

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Settling down in my reading chair, knees covered with a comfy blanket, I open the book, deliciously anticipating a fun, happy ride with all these characters and elements from the movie. So, guess what? The book is nothing like the movie. The characters' names are the same. There is a slight similarity in plot. And there is definitely no midnight margarita scene.

To read and enjoy this book, you must put aside the movie completely. Really. This is a wonderful book. I love the writing style of Alice Hoffman. She writes in third person, present tense. Her words flow and float, almost in a stream-of-consciousness way. Painting her characters with an insightful brush, leading us through childhoods fraught with sadness and unhappiness to adults who are unable to shake the shadows of the past. The aunts, for instance, are quite old, seemingly unloving and unapproachable by little girls longing for affection. There is no lovely, happy, beautiful Victorian home. In fact, the aunts are barely in the book, showing up near the end to help with a problem. The sisters are older in the book, rougher, dysfunctional, conflicted.

Having said all this, I do highly recommend this book.  Do not be disappointed that it is not like the movie. It is a beautifully written story that speaks volumes about family relationships, old folk magic, fear, anger, jealousy and the shining moments that happen between people you love, even when you almost hate them. If you can forget about the movie, and read the book for its own beauty and worth, I think you will value it immensely.

Both book and movie do share the following advice.

Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.


Jessie said...

Good advice indeed but the last one might lead to pain and heartache! ;) I shall go and see if my library has this book, sounds good!xx

~*Gumbo Soul*~ said...

That is exactly how I view the book. If you try to compare it to the movie you will only be disappointed in both, but if you take both of the separately, they are both beautiful. This is one of my favorite books and movies, but the two are almost nothing alike.

Bella Foxglove said...

That is exactly how I feel as well. Usually I read the book first, but this time I did not, saw the movie years ago, and only recently read the book. I actually disliked the book the first time I read it, because it was so vastly different than my beloved movie, but later on I read it again and was able to appreciate the book for what it was.

Anonymous said...

I would say never read the book before You see the film! I´m a Harry Potter fan and I really don´t like how they treated the books! But still, I buy the films anyway :-) :-) :-)

I haven´t seen this film or read the book but I have been looking for both. I must find the swedish names for them. So the film is what I need to find first then :-)

Have a great day now!

SharleneT said...

Well, now, you have me curious so I'm going to download to my Kindle. Look forward to a good reading. Thanks for the review. Come visit when you can.

Mina said...

I have heard in the past that the book was completely different but never gotten an opinion on the book as a stand alone. Thank you for this. I will put it on my list to read.

Lady Caer Morganna said...

Unfortunately, this seems to be the case most of the time between movies based upon their books. However, I have a very open mind and love variety so I will definately have to read this book for myself!

Thanks for sharing your review with us!



Anonymous said...

I saw the movie years before reading the book and I agree with your review completely. If I had read the book first, I don't know if I would have loved the movie since they are so different.

Magic Love Crow said...

Thanks so much Robin! I am going to have to go get this book now! And, I love the advice at the end ;o) Have a good one ;o)

taio said...


Rev. Corbie said...

Hated the book. If I want dysfunctional, nasty and self-centered its out in the world and mostly unavoidable; definitely not something I want to spend my limited leisure time on. A complete waste of my audiobook budget.