Wednesday, July 16, 2008

book review: practical magic by alice hoffman

A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly published their 1000th issue, which features numerous 100 new classics lists. I, of course, have set out to read their 100 New Classic Books. (Yes, I'm still working through their memoir list too). First, or rather #100, on the list is America (The Book). While I adore this Daily Show tome, it's not the kind of book one either sits down to read or carries around on the bus all day. Instead, I'm reading one chapter a night before bed. I moved on to #99, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

I've read a few Alice Hoffman books, most notably her brilliant Skylight Confessions. I vaguely remember seeing the movie adaptation of Practical Magic with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock years ago. The vagueness of my memory makes me inclined to believe it wasn't terribly notable. The book is magical, pun intended. Hoffman plays with magic as a realistic story element better than any non-Latin writer I've read. The story of the Owens family is intriguing and unique. As I read it, I was instantly transported. I wished I had the time to sit beside a fire on an autumn evening with this book and a few glasses of red wine. It's a lovely story because of the characters. I didn't write down any sentences to recall for later; it's not an immensely quotable book. Instead it's intelligence lies in the heart of the story and the characters.

My one regret is not devoting larger chunks of time to reading Practical Magic. The book is not broken down into chapters, and it offers few breaks in the story. I think I lost a little bit of the magic each time I put it down. Still, it's a Hoffman classic, and it's definitely worth reading.

After finishing another beautifully written Hoffman novel, each quite different and unique, I've added her to my illustrious "Read Every Word" list. I've waited this long to add her only because of the size of her canon. Adding a first-time novelist to the list is an action filled with hopeful anticipation of a good follow-up. Adding Hoffman's extensive library is almost daunting, but I'm most curious to continue to see the vastness of her imagination. Her novels may share some themes, but each story (as far as I've read) is its own unique being.

Rating: 2 stars (liked it)

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