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Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.


Practical Magic: The superior book behind the cult film

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Like most people, I became aware of Alice Hoffman's 1995 novel Practical Magic through the nineties film adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. It's not a great movie, but it has a charm of its own, and it led me to the original story upon which it's based. It's striking to see the differences and similarities between the two.

The film leans more heavily on its magical elements, even becoming something of a supernatural thriller at some points, whereas the book is more interested in the three generations of Owens women and their lives, whether it be the tragedy of the aunts, the love stories of Gillian and Sally, or the coming-of-age rites of Antonia and Kylie.

As children, Sally and Gillian Owens were ostracized from their New England community due to the persistent rumour that they and their extended family were witches. Onc... Read More

The Rules of Magic: The prequel to an old favourite

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

It's been over twenty years since Practical Magic was first published, and now we can finally snuggle up and enjoy another book about the Owens family. The Rules of Magic (2017) centres on the aunts of the first novel: Frances and Jet Owens, who are born and raised in 1950s New York City, along with their brother Vincent.

Like all Owens women, they are strikingly beautiful and surrounded by mystery. Jet can read minds, Frances can call birds to her hand, and even Vincent is blessed with an irresistible charm. But their parents are determined that their children should grow up as normal as possible, and it's not until they reach adolescence that they begin to realize the truth of their heritage.

And if one thing is certain, it's that a witch who denies her identity is doomed to misery. So while Frances buries her feelings for her ... Read More