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.