Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanPractical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

byAlice Hoffman

Paperback | August 5, 2003

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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



Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Rules of Magic, Practical Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.
Title:Practical MagicFormat:PaperbackPublished:August 5, 2003Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0425190374

ISBN - 13:9780425190371

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from so-so Don't read the novel if you've seen and enjoyed the movie. Count this as a completely different story.
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the perfect fall read The perfect book to sit down with a cup tea or hot chocolate and warm blanket and forget about the world.
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites! I came to read the book after watching the film and was not disappointed! I love the every day magic and the relationship between Gilly and Sally. The interpersonal relationships felt very real to me and supremely well executed.
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I enjoyed reading this story. I found the sisters to be funny and good for the story.
Date published: 2018-05-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from What is love? I've seen the movie a dozen times and I love it. I think they did a fantastic job adapting the themes and feelings of the book without being completely faithful to the story as written. The book is pretty good - I feel like the interest was in exploring love and its affects on women. Whether it's unrequited, lost, abusive, passionate, or familial. Sally and Gillian are orphaned very young, sent to live with their spinster aunts who everyone in town believes to be witches. Gillian runs wild while Sally aims for normalcy, years go by and Sally moves to a small New York town to raise her daughters after the death of her husband. Along with Sally and Gillian, Sally's daughter's Antonia and Kylie are given room in the story to examine love at 13 and 17. A bit chick-lit in that the men in the story are broadly drawn with no real depth.
Date published: 2018-03-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read THis is the book that landed Hoffman into my top authors.
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Witches & Family Love This book is perfect for anyone who enjoyed the movie! It was always a favourite of mine.
Date published: 2017-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is one of my favorite books I adore Alice Hoffman, but this book has an eternal place in my heart. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a bit of magic in their lives.
Date published: 2017-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you loved the movie give this book a try For anyone who loved Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock you should definitely pick up the book. It's a quick read but thoroughly entertaining.
Date published: 2017-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magically Empowering This novel is fun to read, magical and made me feel as though I was in a band of female friends who stick together through all of life's twists and turns, supernatural included. It's an easy read and contains much greater detail and characters who were not in the movie. I read the book first and thought it was much better than the movie.
Date published: 2017-11-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good Don't hate me, this has got to be one of those very instances when the movie is actually better than the book. BUT - this is a pretty good read on it own.
Date published: 2017-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from read book 1st then see movie This is one of those the movie is better than the book which is not like me to say. As much as I love books becoming movies I still always love the books WAY more naturally I'm a book nerd. Anyways this was bland for me because I didn't know it was a book and i love the movie so much. Decided to order the book and was a bit disappointing because like I said I love the movie that much. The book honestly is ok but I think the movie ruined it for me. I will reread it again ofcourse I just need to separate the two next time. I do still recommend it.
Date published: 2017-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great book I read this one years ago and it's still one of my favourites. It prompted me to write a review now that Alice Hoffman has written the prequel "The Rules of Magic".
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good I really loved this book. Loved all the different aspects of the book. The twists and terms, and all the different elements.
Date published: 2017-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So fun with a few dark curve balls Very realistic story of a family of women and the many good times but also the few bad. I found this book made a statement about feminism and how women are persecuted whether a witch or not.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Love this book but if you've seen the movie first dont expect it to be like that
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not my cup of tea... If I didn't love the movie and if I hadn't been able to picture elements of the movie while reading, I don't think I would have enjoyed this book. I liked the writing, even though perspectives shifted a little too quickly for my liking; it did still feel organic due to the way it was written. I loved the complexity of the characters. I loved the way family relationships were portrayed. I'm not sure if I love the plot? Ultimately, the conclusion is about reconciliation, not Jimmy. Jimmy existed only to move the narrative forward when things got too simple and I totally understand how he was used; but, I feel like the end just didn't quite wrap everything up as forcefully as I would have liked, given how intense the focus was during certain parts of the book. I would still recommend reading this book, because I do think it would be very enjoyable if you didn't feel the same way I did about Jimmy; I can see why people would love this book, even though I did not. The cover is also stunning and for that reason alone I will be keeping my copy.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In my top ten! This book propels you onward until the end. .
Date published: 2015-06-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Practically Already Forgotten I was really looking forward to reading this book. But, I have to be honest ... I'm not so sure what all the excitement is about. For me, it was like a storybook for adults; similar to something I would read to my girls at bedtime, except this is aimed at an adult audience. It did not provoke any deep soul searching or questioning of ideals. I did not fall in love with the characters; I did not really relate to them in any meaningful way, I guess. For me, this book was just okay ... I read this book as part of a challenge to read 100 books in one year ... and I'm blogging as I go. Read all my thoughts on Practical Magic ...
Date published: 2010-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Real Sisterhood If you are expected something resembles the movie you won't find it here but read it anyway. This is especially great if you have a sister and love her style of writting.
Date published: 2009-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Written I watched and loved the DVD first, but then while browsing through my store I came upon the book and had to have it. I have now read it three times, and loved it every time. This book is a truly moving tale of love and magic through generations. I have since bought every other Alice Hoffman book I could get my hands on. This is a wonderful read and such a delight.
Date published: 2007-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A favourite Hands down my favourite feel-good book ever, ‘Practical Magic’ tells a three-generational tale of women who have the distinction of being different, and certainly not loved for being so. Sally desperately wants to be normal – so normal she has turned her back on the natural magics she can do so well. Gillian has spun the other way, being so wild and carefree (and careless) with the hearts of others, that she’s in danger of losing her own way. When life events crash Sally and Gillian back together, things will never be the same for them, their aunts, or Sally’s children – who are coming of age and starting to learn about their own magic. Written in a breathtaking tense of immediacy, ‘Practical Magic’ is just bursting at the seams with wonderful prose, depth of emotion, and characters you’re going to fall in love with.
Date published: 2006-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent ! A fun magical read! I wanted to read the book before viewing the movie and I truly enjoyed reading this book. It is not so much a 'witch' book as so many of my Salem friends state, but focusses more on the relationship of sisters and family bonds. The ending is fun and pulls the entire book together. Looking forward to viewing the DVD!
Date published: 2005-08-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good story, fair writing style I found the less fantastical storyline of the book more impressive than that of the movie. Hoffman shows that magic is being aware of how life unfolds and recognizing how and when to interfere or interface. That being said, I found the switching of verb tenses disconcerting at times, as well as the abrupt changes in story (such as dropping away from the one daughter running with her potential boyfriend to the arrival of the detective). I also found Hoffman's view of love and relationships to be somewhat one-sided at times, giving most people little credit for having any common sense while being in love. At first I was annoyed by the two-dimensional treatment of the aunts but realized by the final pages that this was necessary to allow the sisters' view of their aunts to permeate the story.
Date published: 2004-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i loved it i saw and own the movie, its one of my favorites. i thought if the movie was good the book should be a lot better. well the book was fantastic. i really enjoyed it. its pretty long but i read it in only about 2 weeks. i couldn't put it down and even though i had a good idea of what was going to happen, i still wanted to see if there were anymore turns the story would take before the ending. i really enjoyed this book.
Date published: 2003-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great movie, and also a great book! If you have seen this movie or own it, you should really read this book. Also this book was made before the movie so there are a lot of differences in it. This was a great book about the love of two sisters that go through thick and thin through life and still find there way back to each other even through the bumpy times in life. This is a great book for people of all ages!
Date published: 2003-07-01

Read from the Book

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.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Practical Magic“A beautiful, moving book about the power of love and the desires of the heart.”—Denver Post“Charmingly told, and a good deal of fun.”—The New York Times Book Review“One of her most lyrical works...Hoffman is at her best.”—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review“Written with a light hand and rhythm...Practical Magic has the pace of a fairy tale but with the impact of accomplished fiction.”—People“A sweet, sweet story that like the best fairy tales says more than at first it seems to.”—New York Daily News“[Hoffman] has proved once again her potency as a storyteller, combining the mundane with the fantastic in a totally engaging way.”—The Orlando Sentinel“Hoffman's writing has plenty of power. Her best sentences are like incantations—they won't let you get away.”—Kirkus Reviews“Witches and ghosts, spells and sleight-of-hand weave a fanciful atmospehere in Alice Hoffman's tender comedy about clairvoyance, spells, and family ties.”—The Miami Herald“A cosmic romance leavened with just the right touch of pragmatism and humor.”—Booklist