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369 pages, Kindle Edition
First published October 10, 2017
It was clear from the start that they were not like other children, therefore Susanna felt she had no choice but to set down rules. No walking in the moonlight, no Ouija boards, no candles, no red shoes, no wearing black, no going shoeless, no amulets, no night-blooming flowers, no reading novels about magic, no cats, no crows, and no venturing below Fourteenth Street. Yet no matter how Susanna tried to enforce these rules, the children continued to thwart her.Do you ever read a wonderful book and wonder what happens next? How about wondering what might have happened before the action of a book? If you read Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel, Practical Magic, or saw the wonderful 1998 film adaptation with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, I bet you’d like to spend a bit more time with the Owens family. Hoffman wanted to go there some more as well. But sometimes life intervenes.
The set of the film was built in two locations. The exterior of the house was constructed on a small island off Washington State (so gorgeous and realistic that Barbra Streisand is said to have wanted to buy it) while the interior was built in a hanger at a Hollywood studio. I went to visit in California, invited by star and producer Sandra Bullock, and when I walked into the house I had first created in my novel, I was stunned. There I was in the Owens kitchen, a place I had only imagined, now brought to life. I realized then, the person on the film whose work was most like mine was the set designer. We both created the world for the characters to step into.Only twenty two years after the original, Hoffman has finally brought us back into the magical world of the Owens family, not Bullock and Kidman’s characters, but a tracing back of their elderly aunts, born in the 1950s and growing up in New York, with serious exposure not only to the Massachusetts house where they will end up, but in the allure that was Manhattan in the 1960s. Hoffman had a pretty good time setting her tale, mostly, in that very lively decade.
I might have continued on with the Owens family then, for certainly there was more to their story - a mysterious past, and a relative who had begun a curse that still affected the family, but on my return from Hollywood I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During my treatment, ideas of returning to the Owens family of Practical Magic evaporated. During my treatment, and after my illness, I moved on to other books. Still, I felt haunted by the world I had created, as if the family had been trapped in time, waiting to come alive. - from the Foyle’s article
It is my favourite time period, a time of enormous change when the attitudes of young people, women, gays and lesbians, and of people of colour radically changed, and when an unjust and unpopular war was affected by protests in the streets. A cultural revolution took place, one in which young people were able to change attitudes during a time when America was horribly divided, as it is now… Artistically, the sixties was a thrilling, magical time…The sisters, and their…mysterious brother, Vincent, live in Greenwich Village, the epicenter of music, art and politics in the States in the sixties. - from the Foyles articleThere was particular personal resonance for me, a contemporary of Franny and Jet, and a native of the city. It was particularly fun to learn some facts about The Village that I had never known. I cannot say how much the at-homeness of that setting invoked warm feelings, maybe a bit, but whatever the cause, those feeling were sustained by plenty more.
I’ve always been interested in witchcraft, and I’ve done research my whole life. I did a bit more for The Rules of Magic because I was writing specifically about a particular judge, Judge Hathorne, at the witchcraft trials in Salem. I read whatever I could find about him, and I found him a really interesting character. As to magic, for me it’s always a pleasure to study magic and to find out more and more. Everything in the book about magic lore was something that I researched. For instance, the use of medicinal plants and herbs. Still, while the research is interesting, it’s not what’s important. Really, the most important thing is writing the novel and creating the characters. That’s the big difference between an historical novel and a history. What I’m mostly interested in is the novel part of it. All the research that I do is in service to that. - from the writermag interviewOne of the true bits of magic in the book is the strength of the relationship among the siblings, particularly between Franny and Jet. They face a series of challenges, but their connection to each other offers strength to face what comes.
don’t just love, love more💕