Magic Lessons

Prequel to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons takes the reader back to the 1700’s to introduce you to Maria Owens.

This was a time when women were herbalists and they helped heal. At the time, there wasn’t good medical care and these women offered a better alternative. Granted they did offer advice for love and some used their skills for the darker side, like revenge but the smart ones knew better than to go there. This was also when women were persecuted and really had no rights.

The story starts in Essex, England during the plague. Maria escapes the witch hunters and travels to America. A failed love’s pain causes Maria to issue the famous curse that keeps the Owens women from finding love.

The strongest magic was literary and Maria knew how to read. It was a lesson she later taught her daughter. Reading opened the world for them but it also made them targets to men who were afraid of strong women.

I watched an interview with Alice Hoffman. She said she was always drawn to writing strong female characters. Her mentor was a Professor at Stanford. She suffered writer’s block after 9/11. By re-reading Farenheit 451 she was able to break through her writers block. She further pulled herself out of it by writing Young Adult fiction.

She is currently working on the fourth book in the Owen’s family series. Originally – Practical Magic was meant to be a stand alone but so many readers wanted to know more about the family so she wrote more for them.

She was surprised by the similarities in the women in the 1700’s and modern day women and some of the similar experiences they shared.

Alice Hoffman was a fanatical reader and a secret writer in the beginning. She sent a story to a magazine that needed work grammatically. The magazine responded that when she decided to take writing seriously, to send it back to them.

Her brother encouraged her to come to California to college. She applied at Stanford and got a fellowship. There she met her mentor who helped her become successful.

Her advice is to write every day and start early. She feels she has to re-learn how to do it with each new book. She does outline, lots of research. She loves Google.

Her themes are usually women in a man’s world. Maria just walked in a door whole for her, probably because she’d been in her head the previous 25 years.

I was a great fan of Practical Magic. I did read the second in the series – The Rules of Magic when it came out so I wouldn’t have missed reading Magic Lessons. If you are familiar with the earlier books or movie, you should have a good idea of what to expect with this one. Yes it is a story about a family of witches who tend to want to do good. This book is perfect for the Halloween season but I would recommend sitting in front of a fire with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate and sink into an enjoyable journey anytime this winter.

I highly recommend Alice Hoffman’s work. If you have not read this one and you enjoy women’s fiction with a little bit of magic, you need to check this one out.

What has been on your list this month? I am guessing you are making plans for Thanksgiving, if you are in America. Hoping you have a wonderful, safe holiday and maybe take some time to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie and a good book.

Until next time,


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