Saturday, January 03, 2009

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

I confess, I love the movie version of Practical Magic. If I'd read the book prior to seeing the movie, though, I think I would have been very disappointed with the screenplay adapters.

Much like as with Under the Tuscan Sun, the movie and the book versions of Practical Magic seem to have very little in common, except for the characters' names. But as I read, I kept thinking about the movie, and every time a scene from the book that also made it into the movie came up, I imagined a roomful of screenwriters sitting around and saying, "Yeah, but in the movie Sally doesn't have to do that," and, "The girls don't need to be that old in the movie." In fact, the movie writers seem to have merely borrowed generously from the book, which has a lot more substance to it than the movie was ever planned to.

It's rather difficult to review the book, tied in my head as it was to the movie. I can say that I found myself thinking, when I was nearly through the story, that the writing style--which included a lot of future talk ("they would never [do that] again" and "future generations would...")--normally would have gotten old for me very quickly, but in this book it worked. Still, I feel like I need to read this again in a few weeks or months, when I'll quit looking for much of what happened in the movie to happen in the book, and be able to fall into it a little deeper. (For example, and only because I think you should be forewarned before you read this if you've already seen the movie but haven't read the book: there's no ghostly possession in the book, no Owens curse, no Sally opening her own store, and nor is there a midnight margarita party scene.)

I'll probably re-report on this book when I've re-read it. Until then, highly recommended for people who like fairy tales and love.

Many thanks to my sister, who sent me this book for Christmas.


Amanda said...

Oh my sister and I both love this movie too. And I love Alice Hoffman's writing and have been wanting to read this one. Although I have been forewarned that it isn't like the movie. Great review!

naida said...

This is one of my favorite films too, I thought the book was good, even though the two were very different. I was waiting for the ghostly possesion in the book...they left it out!
great review.