Practical Magic is a cult classic film that has inspired many witches and women to embrace their dark and mysterious side. Since its release in 1998, the Owens family have stayed with us and in our hearts as a pseudo-family. The film was based off the book of the same name written by best-selling author Alice Hoffman.
It has been over 20 years since we first met the Owens family in Hoffman’s book and now they are back! Hoffman has penned the prequel to the beloved story in her new book The Rules of Magic, which explores the young lives of dear aunts – Frances and Jet. I was lucky enough to attend a reading and signing for this new book, which was released yesterday. Hoffman shared kind words for witches, the Owens, and much more in her moving presentation.
With many fans writing her letters and messages about wanting more from the Owens family, Hoffman said she chose to write about the aunts’ experiences as their younger selves. She said that you never truly know someone as a person until you know their youthful selves. The Rules of Magic explores the sisters as they find themselves in Greenwich, NY during the 1960s. A time where every day had historical significance. Why did Hoffman choose Greenwich? She shared that her own time in that part of New York had a substantial effect on her and she wanted it to have a significant effect on the aunts as well.
In the Rules of Magic we will learn the Owens family secrets, their relationship to another magical family, and how life and fate play an important role in their story.
More on the Owens Family
Announced today as Reese Witherspoon’s book selection for October – The Rules of Magic will focus on Frances and Jet as orphans in New York before they retired to their ancestral home that we all know and love. We also will meet their brother Vincent and learn more about their attitudes toward magic.
Hoffman gave us a little taste of what it was like writing Practical Magic, revealing she wrote it in a shed in Massachusetts. She wanted to focus on the myth of the Witch, the fear of female empowerment, and the importance of sisterhood and female relationships. Her goal was to weave magic with the every day – and with this topping most Witch’s list of favorite fictional representations of a Witch, we have to say she succeeded.
On Witches as Idols
Hoffman shared her view on Witches as important icons. She spoke of October and how no matter the fad or trend of the year there will always be little girls dressed as witches. Why are they dressed as Witches? They instinctively know it is better to be a witch. This touching sentiment was continued as Hoffman spoke on her view of the Witch. The Witch needs no prince or king to save her. The Witch is strong enough on her own. The Witch is who she wants to be. The Witch claims her power as her own. The Witch fights for her rights and has been convicted in history for having money, property, and for being independent. Mystery, power, death, birth, empowerment – the witch is the gatekeeper. History is full of those trying to control the uncontrollable Witch.
On Hoffman’s Experiences
“Sometimes there is a book you want to read but you can’t find it. So, you have to write it yourself.” Alice Hoffman on writing.
During the Q & A, she was asked about her involvement in the movie Practical Magic. She revealed that while she did visit the set and had lovely experiences with Sandra Bullock, Hoffman had been diagnosed with cancer and was unable to be heavily involved. She spoke highly of the set designer and her talent in creating the magical and beautiful garden and house described in her book. The house and its garden are as important as any character.
“Barbara Streisand wanted to buy the house… but it didn’t exist.” Hoffman touched on everyone’s love for the Owens ancestral home.
Another attendee asked about Hoffman’s own magical or paranormal experiences. She revealed that she wants to believe, is willing to believe, and doesn’t know it she believes.
The final question was asked by a woman who was so moved by Hoffman and her writings that she was brought to tears as she spoke. She asked about the female relationships that are depicted in Practical Magic and many of Hoffman’s other books. Hoffman expressed frustration in the lack of female relationships often depicted in fiction, with many women in books not even having a single friend. Hoffman revealed the importance of the women in her family and how close she was with her mother and grandmother.
The Rules of Magic will be reviewed in the November 2017 issue of Witch Way Magazine.