Cover image for The Rules of Magic
Title:
The Rules of Magic

A Novel
Author:
Hoffman, Alice
Subject:
Fiction
Literature
Historical Fiction
Description:
An instant New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from beloved author Alice Hoffman—the spellbinding prequel to Practical Magic.Find your magic. For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people's thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Yet, the children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Alice Hoffman delivers "fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle" (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is "irresistible...the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters" (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars).
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Date:
2017/10/10
Digital Format:
Adobe EPUB

HTML

Kindle
Language:
English

Summary

Summary

** INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSLLER **

** REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK **

From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic .

Find your magic .

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people's thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic , while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.


Author Notes

Alice Hoffman, an American novelist and screenwriter, was born in New York City on March 16, 1952. She earned a B.A. from Adelphi University in 1973 and an M.A. in creative writing from Stanford University in 1975 before publishing her first novel, Property Of, in 1977.

Known for blending realism and fantasy in her fiction, she often creates richly detailed characters who live on society's margins and places them in extraordinary situations as she did with At Risk, her 1988 novel about the AIDS crisis. Her other works include The Drowning Season, Seventh Heaven, The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen, and The Dovekeepers. Her book, The Third Angel, won the 2008 New England Booksellers' Award for fiction. Two of her novels, Practical Magic and Aquamarine, were made into films. She has also written numerous screenplays, including adaptations of her own novels and the original screenplay, Independence Day. Her title's The Museum of Exteaordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, Seventh Heaven, and The Rules of Magic made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

New York Review of Books Review

NOVELS FLOW FROM Alice Hoffman with the reliability of leaves falling in autumn. Since her first, "Property Of," published in 1977 when she was 25, Hoffman has averaged a book a year - more than 30 novels, three collections of short fiction and eight books for children and young adults. But Hoffman's latest offering, "The Rules of Magic," is likely to attract particular attention because it's a prequel to her 1995 novel, "Practical Magic," perhaps the best-known work of her career and the basis for the 1998 film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as the sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, born into a Massachusetts family whose founding matriarch escaped Salem's gallows by magicking herself out of her noose. People who know only the film version may be surprised to learn that "the aunts," as Sally and Gillian refer to their guardians, are thinly sketched characters for most of "Practical Magic." Though they're described as part of a long line of beautiful Owens women with gray eyes and an intrinsic understanding of how plants (and animal organs) can cure various ailments (principally lovesickness), most of what readers learn about the older sisters borders on witchy caricature: They're peculiar and reclusive, with long white hair and crooked spines. Readers don't even know their names - Frances, called Franny, and Bridget, known as Jet- until late in that novel's last act. Hoffman has now returned to fill out their portraits, providing a back story that thoroughly upends what we thought we knew about them. The Owens sisters had a baby brother! The only male Owens in centuries was the third child of Susanna, an Owens who skedaddled out of Massachusetts as soon as she could, desperate to remove herself from the stigma clinging to her family name. She flees Boston for Paris, then settles in New York, where she and her psychiatrist husband (a real drip) try without success to repress any inclinations toward witchcraft their children might harbor. The house rules are all about prohibition: "No walking in the moonlight, no Ouija boards, no candles, no red shoes, no wearing black, no going shoeless, no amulets, no nightblooming flowers, no reading novels about magic, no cats, no crows and no venturing below 14 th Street." Firstborn Franny, pale as porcelain, with "blood-red" hair and "an ability to commune with birds," mostly abides by those rules, as does the shy beauty, Jet, whose knack for reading people's thoughts allows her to skirt a lot of missteps. But Vincent, so charismatic even as a newborn that a nurse tried to spirit him out of the hospital hidden inside her coat, is not yet a teenager before he's south of 14 th Street, strumming his guitar on street corners in Greenwich Village as the 1960s dawn. The children live uncomfortably in their skins until Franny turns 17 and, in accordance with generations of tradition, is summoned to spend the summer at the family manor, where the current matriarch is Aunt Isabelle. For narrative convenience, Franny's siblings travel with her. And all their mother's carefully concocted strictures unravel in a single vacation. From Isabelle, the siblings learn to make black soap and which herbs will cause a married man to leave his wife. More dramatically, from their rebellious cousin April they learn about the curse laid on the family by Maria Owens, who escaped hanging but was spurned by her paramour: Any man who loves an Owens is doomed. Talk about your summers of transformation. What teenager wants to fall in love if it means your lover dies? It's tough to top a dead body in a car, the event that drove the plot in "Practical Magic," and Hoffman doesn't try. Instead she goes for historical sweep, setting the Owens siblings' saga against the backdrop of real events like the Vietnam War, San Francisco's Summer of Love and the Stonewall riots. But this is a novel that begins with the words, "Once upon a time," and its strength is a Hoffman hallmark: the commingling of fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle. The Owens children can't escape who they are. Like the rest of us, they have to figure out the best way to put their powers to use. SUE CORBETT is the author of the novels "12 Again," "Free Baseball" and "The Last Newspaper Boy in America."


Guardian Review

Hoffman displays her magic touch once again as she relates the witchy sisters' family backstory in a novel set in 1950s New York The almost supernaturally prolific American author Alice Hoffman has taken a busman's holiday this year to pen a little fan fiction: a prequel to her own bestselling novel Practical Magic. The original book became the 1998 Hollywood romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witchy sisters Gillian and Sally Owens. Now, in The Rules of Magic, set in 1950s New York, we are treated to the backstory of Gillian and Sally's great-aunts, Frances and Jet. Like all the females in the Owens family tree, Frances and Jet are witches descended from Salem escapee Maria Owens. More than 300 years ago, the teenage Maria was seduced and abandoned by Salem trial judge John Hathorne (real-life great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who added a "w" in his name to deflect the inevitable question). The fact that Maria's lover was a state-sponsored serial killer of women led the young witch to conclude - erroneously, one hopes - that all men are a bad thing. Thus before she went to her grave Maria decided to protect her female descendants by casting a spell to ensure that every male who loves an Owens woman will die, horribly and fast. This spell makes life difficult for Frances and Jet, especially when they become sexually aware teenagers. In the summer that they go to stay with their Aunt Isabelle, at least four local lads - including an adorable pair of 17-year-old twins - come to shocking ends. Aunt Isabelle is sanguine about the whole thing, and encourages the girls to keep on loving boys anyway, saying wisely: "When you truly love someone and they love you in return, you ruin your lives together. That is not a curse. It's what life is, my girl." It's all the great circle of death, we comfort our­selves, as we stroll through the scented garden of Hoffman's prose The girls' brother, the irresistible wizard Vincent Owens, has a different problem. As a youth, he breaks the hearts of endless girls, before realising that he is gay. Yet just as he's starting to enjoy himself, he remembers that he too is cursed to die young. Hoffman has a soothing touch, so we quickly get over the various horrific tragedies with which her latest book is littered - any one of which would pole-axe us personally for life. It's all the great circle of death, we comfort ourselves, as we stroll through the scented garden of Hoffman's prose. In the book, Aunt Isabelle trades love remedies for women's diamond rings. Hoffman herself has a spell for which any writer would trade a crate of diamonds - the ability to turn out one enchanting bestseller after another, more than 30 novels to date, and probably more by the time I have finished this review. She seems to have been a sad child - "Unhappiness was trapped in the house like a bubble", she once told the New York Times. So maybe it's not surprising that so many of her works deal with dead or abducted children as well as with magic - it's a sort of fascinated grave-digging with bucket and spade, followed by the planting of flowers that bloom overnight... while inside the house, the cauldron bubbles o'er with tiny finger bones. Fun fact learned from this book: "Abracadabra" is a word from Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus, and it means "I create what I speak". A good incantation for writers, I assume. Hoffman must say it every morning. - Helen Falconer.


Library Journal Review

Hoffman weaves a spell around the three Owens children-Franny, Jet, and -Vincent-as she provides the backstory to her best-selling Practical Magic. The family of witches has been cursed since the 17th century, and as the Owens siblings come of age during 1960s, their second sight, magic potions, and other supernatural abilities are not enough to keep them from the danger of falling in love and seeing their beloved die. How each deals with the consequences and learns to fight the curse by loving more, not less, is the key to freedom from the spell and an instruction to readers. Hoffman deftly weaves in dramatic events from the era, including the Vietnam War and protests against it, without sacrificing the fairy-tale feeling of her story. VERDICT Admirers of Practical Magic and readers who enjoy a little magic mixed in with their love stories and prefer to be kept at something of a remove from the grittiness of life's tragedies will relish this book. [See Prepub Alert, 5/3/17.]--Sharon Mensing, Emerald Mountain School, Steamboat Springs, CO © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.