Tuesday 18 May 2021

Practical Magic

Finished May 16
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This tale takes us through the lives of two sisters from their childhood through their late thirties. Gillian and Sally Owens were orphaned as children and came to live with their aunts, women that lived in a house built by an earlier generation of Owens woman, Maria. The house had certain strange things about it, and around it, and the aunts were known by the townsfolk, particularly the women, to have certain abilities around herbs and tonics, particularly when it came to love. The visits from the town women generally came at twilight, when it was easier to go unnoticed in the shadows. 
Sally and Gillian were sent to their attic bedroom when visitors came, but they almost always snuck down the back stairs and listened and watched. Sally was more practically minded and she cooked for the household, even at a young age, but the two girls knew things most girls didn't.
Both longed for a more normal life, where they had friends and weren't shunned and feared. Gillian ran away at the first chance she had as a young woman, and never stopped running. Sally stayed for a time, and started her own family with two daughters, Antonia and Kylie, but when tragedy strikes Sally slips into grief and then heads out to start a life elsewhere. 
Sally ends up on Long Island and finds a job as a secretary in a school, and makes a more normal life, bringing up her daughters with guidelines and expectations, and hosting birthday parties and checking homework. 
As Antonia becomes a teenager, she becomes more rebellious, dressing in black and tormenting her sister, but nothing out of the realm of normal. But then Gillian returns to their lives, and she brings a big problem with her. Sally helps her, and the two women hope for the best, but things aren't right, and as Kylie also hits her teenage years shortly after Gillian arrives, and shares a room with her aunt, she finds that she can see things about people and about feelings that give her insight, but also burden her. As things come to a head, and Gillian's past threatens to catch up with her, the aunts are called upon to help, and the family finds that some things will bind them together forever.
I liked the four main characters, the two sets of sisters, and as we got to know the aunts a bit at the end, they grew more interesting as well. I read this book quickly, drawn in by the plot and caring about what happened to them, and whether the evil that had come into their lives would be more than they could overcome. 

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