Novel vs. Movie vs. Prequel
I had very high hopes for Practical Magic. Too high, in fact. As a lover of the fantasy world of magic, the film, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, and more recently The Rules of Magic I figured the book Practical Magic would be just as lovely. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it fell short. Many original lovers of the novel will argue, but my question for them is, where is the Love? Where is the Magic?
The Book begins with the young Ownes sisters, Sally and Gillian living with their Great-Aunts, due to an unfortunate accident where they lost both of their parents. The Aunts comes off as bitter, old ladies. Who although take the girls in, don’t seem at all interested in joyful living or caring for them. In the film, this is portrayed much differently. Granted a death in the family is not a joyful experience, but the Aunts welcome the girls with a bit more warmth and understanding. As if, they had been through this before. The Rules of Magic mirror this warmth with balloons and chocolates. Although sassy comments are tossed between the four ladies, there is kindness.
From there, there is the brief childhood of Sally and Gillian. Although these two sisters are close, they are different. One more of a free spirit were the other is a bit uptight at times. Both are bullied and isolated from the other children, due to the family history within the town, as the Owens have been there forever. It is widely known that the Owens Family are witches. The girl’s witness, heart-sick women visiting their Aunts at night, observe as they cast love spells and wait for the consequences. They quickly grow up and Gillian is off to travel and fall in love, were Sally stays put, until she soon falls in love and begins a family.
Sally has this need to be “normal” and yet, once she meets her husband she thinks “normal” is moving into the house she grew up in and wanted to get away from, with her super old aunts who practice witchcraft….. ? It was only until her husband’s passing that she chooses to move out while taking her teenage daughters with her. After this point, Sally’s daughters take the lead in the story. Their teen issue such as boy, looks, and popularity seem to take over the theme. Then Jillian after 18 years, and never meeting her nieces (weird) shows up with her dead boyfriend of the car. The storyline then switches again back to Gillian and Sally, who now hate each other for the only reason being for Gillian’s absence and lack of maturity. Keep in mind throughout this whole time nothing regarding magic has happened, until they bury the dead boyfriend in the backyard. A lilac bush starts to bloom, out of season and there is a large number of frogs. Shortly following this, Carly, one of Sally’s daughters mentions seeing the dead man in the backyard. But magic is never explained or mentioned to the girls and how they might possess this power.
Eventually, after some falling in love and a chase scene, everything does back to “normal”, until the last bit of the book when an officer from out west appears because of a rude letter Sally sent to her sister months ago. Weird reason to want to visit someone… A lot of questions come, Gerry, the officer then falls in love with Sally even after she pretty much admitting to being an accomplice in a murder investigation. Then a storm comes which means, bad news. No reason for this give, but the sisters call the Aunts at once. A concoction is made and poured on the grave of the boyfriend. Then, all is right in the world.
Not only did this book lack emotion, a moving plot, and magic, it had a hint of harshness and hatred. All the sisters, minus the Aunts had this loathing for each other at one point or another. Not to mention there is a lot of blunt language, that just does not fit the mood of the story or the characters themselves.
In both the film and The Rules of Magic, there was frustrating time, but there were deep roots of love. As someone who has two sisters, I am lucky enough to never been majorly wronged by them. Yes, at times I thought I hated them, but when you have a sister there is a bond that you might not always understand. Granted, I understand that not very sister is as fortunate as me, but what happened, prior to the dead boyfriend that caused so much resentment between Sally and Gillian or Sally’s daughter for that matter?
Overall, I think anyone can see I had some major issues with this book and feel that the prequel and the film have much better moving plot, empathy, love, and magic. In my opinion, skip the novel and be dazzled by Franny, Jet, Sally, and Jillian on Amazon Prime, Netflix or whatever your preferred video streaming service may be. 🙂
Next on the book reading list, is The Last Mrs. Parrish.