I have watched the film, Practical Magic, more times that is probably healthy - I love it. So, it won't be surprising to hear me say that I have found the book to be one massive disappointment. I'm usually a book over film gal, even when I've seen the film first, however, here, eh - not so much.
I've selected a few themes that stuck out at me while I was reading, but let me know your feelings too - if you enjoyed it I would love to know why!
Instalove is a term for the way in which characters fall in love on first sight.
There has been interesting discussion recently about Instalove, in the book blogging world. Predominately the discussion has focused on Young Adult Fiction and the problematic use of this unrealistic plot device. Rinn Reads has written a particularly interesting post
on the topic.
Practical Magic is not a Young Adult Novel, which makes the Instalove even more depressing. It is a sloppy literary move, not to mention shallow! If someone told me they loved me after spotting me across the room minutes before I would be considering a restraining order, not a relationship. Ben - and all the other men in Gillian's life - instantly fall in love with her because she is pretty. Hey Hoffman, FYI not all men are shallow, stupid, or violent bastards, and there is more to women than the way they look.
Practical Magic's attitude to attraction is offensive to all genders. Gillian is so attractive every man she meets is enamoured by her. She's an object for them to desire and win, and it takes her four men before she finally finds one who desires her, but isn't an arsehole. Only Antonia is taught that there is more to a relationship than looks, when her beauty fades as her sister Kylie's blossoms. I looked and looked for a situation where affection would develop slowly, but there was none. Men fell for the Owens women's beauty and that was it, beauty equalled love.
3. Happiness in relation to men
When I begun this book I was excited to read about a family of strong women, but the more I read the more men appeared to be the pivot from which they revolved. Even Kylie suddenly turns into a sexual being on her 13th birthday, where Gideon turns from being a best friend into possible love interest. Sally, a character who had the potential to be the most interesting character, abandons her children for a year while she mourns her husband and is then sloppily given a love interest at the end of the book. I found this aggravating not because I think she should have stayed single, but because it was another example of Instalove and served no real purpose other than it appearing inconceivable that Sally should be happy alone.
This powerful group of women are defined by their appearance rather than their family bonds, and men are reduced to pathetic creatures willing to follow these women based on how pretty they are.
How was Practical Magic for you?