STAFF PICK: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Narrator: Christina Moore

Whimsical, atmospheric, heartbreaking and lyrical, Practical Magic completely stole my heart. I fell head over heels in love with Alice Hoffman’s seminal text, and in doing so, ran headlong into the crux of the novel: love, of any kind, is dangerous, wonderful, and completely inevitable.

The story follows the beautiful-yet-troubled Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian. Orphaned at a young age, they are raised by their mysteriously powerful aunts, whose mild magic bewitches those of the townsfolk desperate for intervention in their petty problems. As the girls grow up, they become more aware of their aunts’ eccentric powers, as well as perhaps their own, and they rail against their abnormality in an unforgiving community. Although they both leave the aunts and go their separate ways into adulthood, when disaster strikes in the form of a haunting presence in Sally’s back yard, the sisters must reunite and face their own demons – literally – while embracing their magical ancestry for good. 

Heavy on charm and written with such delicate and exacting prose, Practical Magic is a true pleasure to read. Christina Moore’s effecting narration lends itself to Alice Hoffman’s uniquely written sentences. She makes the nine hour run time fly by. While also available in a three hour abridgement, I wouldn’t recommend. Allow yourself the time to revel in the exquisite details, like this advice passage, typical to every chapter:

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.

Although originally published in print back in 2003, this modern literary classic deserves a #backlistbump. This spring, treat your heart and your ears to Practical Magic.

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