Alice Hoffman – book reviews

I have Lovely and Grateful to thank for bringing this author to my attention, I adored the film of this book – the beautiful house by the sea, the cosmetic business, it all seemed so wonderful. Yet the film is a mishmash of the two books, Practical magic and the Rules of Magic.

Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer, I loved practical magic so I thought I would step away from the Owens ladies and read a few of Hoffman’s other novels, and I am so pleased I did. I ended with the Rules of Magic and the two books are along a similar vein they feel like the teenage fiction I read when I was 14, which was like returning to my teenage self.

These are teenage coming of age stories, all the characters are overshadowed by fate, they can never fall in love. But in all honesty, the question is do we allow pre-conceptions to shape our lives or do we set our own course? I loved practical magic but the rules of magic just seemed to be way too long and short on action. Probably why I decided to take a break from this author after reading rules of magic: but thankfully, I read two other novels of Hoffman in between and I can see how much this writer’s talent and ability grew and why Hoffman is an author I will be following closely.

sheer genius

I read faithful after Practical Magic – oh my goodness the two could not be more different, Faith is a richer, deeper tale beautifully written and completely uplifting.

She was disappearing inch by inch, vanishing into thin air, and then one day a postcard arrived . . . There was no return address, no signature, only a scrawled message: Say something.

Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl growing up on Long Island until one night a terrible road accident brings her life to a halt. While her best friend Helene suffers life-changing injuries, Shelby becomes overwhelmed with guilt and is suddenly unable to see the possibility of a future she’d once taken for granted.

But as time passes, and Helene becomes an almost otherworldly figure within the town, seen by its inhabitants as a source of healing, Shelby finds herself attended to by her own guardian angel. A mysterious figure she half-glimpsed the night of the car crash, he now sends Shelby brief but beautiful messages imploring her to take charge of her life once more . . .

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When you lose all hope and sense of worth? Shelby, a fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookshops, and men she should stay away from, captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding oneself at last. This spellbinding, poignant and life-affirming story of one woman’s journey towards happiness – and the power of love, family and fate.

(Amazon listing)

It took me a while to relate to Shelby – but after the first couple of chapters I was hooked, this is a story of hope and redemption – and how small acts of kindness can be someone’s anchor. I adored this novel, the end is so satisfying and uplifting that I ended up with a bit of a book hangover. Its as if Alice Hoffman’s writing reaches new depths and heights. I loved it.

This book is like the title Extraordinary, set in the early 1900s – The museum is human curiosities, those people born different – webbed fingers, conjoined twins, dwarfs – at a time when it was acceptable to see these people as items of interest. There is also a lot of background history to New York and workers rights.

I can thoroughly recommend it to you, it is a delight.

ttfn x

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