If you know me, you know I love all things Autumn, Halloween and overall spooky. Since 2020 has been a bit of a shit storm, I decided this year I was going to grab my favourite season by the horns! This book could not be more perfect. Not only is it perfect for this time of year but this book embodies everything I am obsessed with: witches, magic, love and all things spooky. You know when you read a book and it fully encompasses you in everyway? The way the words flow, the choice of words that are so carefully placed, almost like poetry? And you want to just live in that space forever? Yeah, that’s this book for me! I think the Practical Magic Book Review is going to be my favourite to write.
This is the fourth instalment of The Ramblings Book Club. If this is your first Book Club post, welcome! Feel free to read The Ramblings Book Club post to learn more about the club and how to join. To put it simply, every first Sunday of the month I upload a blog post reviewing the previous months book and announce the next book to read. This gives people the opportunity to discuss the book with others in the comment section or on social media!
October’s book in The Ramblings Book Club was ‘Practical Magic’ by Alice Hoffman. Here’s a quick recap:
As children, sisters Gillian and Sally were forever outsiders in their small New England town, teased, taunted and shunned for the air of magic that seems to sparkle in the air around them. All Gillian and Sally ever wanted was to get away.
And eventually they do – one marries, the other runs as far from home as she can manage.
Years later, however, tragedy will bring the sisters back together. And they’ll find that no matter what else may happen, they’ll always have each other. An enchanting tale of love, forgiveness and family, Practical Magic is a beloved classic.
Practical Magic Book Review
As I write this review, my Halloween decorations are down and there’s news of a second Lock Down. If you need a good book to escape all the rubbish that is this week, month, year – this is the one. However, if you go into reading this after watching the film (like me), be prepared. It’s quite different from the film! Nevertheless, it is a book I know I will enthusiastically be reaching for over and over.
What I liked
My favourite thing about this book is the way it is written. The language and melody of the sentences are almost like descriptive poetry. It’s very transfixing and makes you feel so involved with the characters themselves and their lives. Hoffman chooses each word with great thought, symbolism and aesthetic to the point where just reading about magic feels magical in itself.
I previously mentioned that the book is quite different to the film. It is and I like that. The main plot isn’t nearly so dramatic but there is a lot more emphasis on love and more detail on how the characters feel towards potential partners, that just can’t be translated in film. There’s also a LOT more sex in the book, so be warned before you recommend it to your teenage children or under.
What I didn’t like
There’s not much to this really. I absolutely loved this book! If I had to pick something I didn’t like, it’d probably be the end felt rushed. The love between Sally and Gary had a lot more time and attention in the movie whereas in the book, it only seems to flourish in the last 40 or so pages. And in the last 5 pages, does he show up at her house after Jimmy’s case is put to bed. I would have liked more of a bigger scene of the two of them coming together.
Other than that, they don’t jump off the roof on Halloween. That made me sad.
To Sum Up…
This is a book I will forever read over and over. That’s rare for me! It’s just cosy and the language is so romantic. There’s elements of drama, love and justice. It’s familiar in a way that makes you excited, like the TV show you put on in the background while you decorate for Halloween or the movie you put on while you decorate the Christmas tree. This is my comfort book.
And remember: 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.
November’s book is ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ by AJ Pearce. This is a book about friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times. Sounds fitting, right? I chose this book partly because of Remembrance Day (book is set in London 1941) and partly because I thought we could all use a lift of encouragement going through what we are right now.
About the Book
Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Women’s Friend magazine.
Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back…
About the Author
AJ Pearce was born in Hampshire, UK. Her favourite subjects at school were English and History, which now (finally!) seems to be making some sense. She majored in American History at the University of Sussex, spending her Junior Year at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA. She began writing as a hobby in 2005. In 2012 she came across a 1939 copy of a weekly women’s magazine and had the idea of writing a novel set in wartime London. AJ is currently writing her second novel, the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird.
You can buy the book from Waterstones here or from Amazon in most formats
If you’d like to join The Ramblings Book Club, please do! All you have to do is find a copy of this month’s book, read it and then the first Sunday of every month, I will post a review for an opportunity to discuss it!
Let me know what you thought of ‘Practical Magic’ in the comments below and let me know if you’re enjoying the book club.
If you have any suggestions or requests for future books, share them in the comments below or any of my socials. You never know, it might be the next book in The Ramblings Book Club!