Tag Archives: love

Book Review: Practical Magic.

Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman.

I’ve had this book for ages but, for some reason, I hadn’t read it. Practical Magic (Griffin Dunne, 1998) is one of my favourite films, so I was a little worried that reading the book would make me feel disappointed by the film. fortunately, that didn’t happen. I loved the book, and I still love the film. For me, I found that there were enough differences that you could see the film was based on the book, but only loosely followed it. The film was written incredibly well, in my humble opinion, so that it complimented the book.

As with the film, it follows the story of sisters Sally and Gillian after their parents die and their move to the aunts on Magnolia street. In the film it follows this idea of being cursed by their ancestor, Maria, and how death follows any who “dare love an Owens girl”. The book differs from this track. It brings up love and feeling cursed, but it’s more centred around what the sisters believe they deserve. Their abandonment issues make them believe that they are not worthy of being loved, or they’re scared to love in case they lose something they care so much about.

They grow up as polar opposites, but are brought together by the death of Gillian’s boyfriend Jimmy. This finally brings Gillian back to the family. Sally left the aunts’ when her two girls (also polar opposites) were babies after fearing they’d be targets like her and Gillian were. As with the film, it follows their journey and how they learn to accept each other’s differences, and to love themselves for who they are.

Both the book and the film are beautifully narrated with vivid concepts, relatable emotions, and ‘real’ family frictions. I’m actually disappointed that Officer Gary Hallet wasn’t how he was portrayed in the film though – I really loved Aidan in this. Gary in the book seemed such a dull character by comparison (which he really isn’t, he just felt different). I’m also sad that Gillian didn’t look like the red-haired Nicole Kidman. The symmetry between Sally and Gillian with Sally’s girls, Antonia and Kylie, was much more subtle than film. In the book, it’s more about attitudes and how personalities can grow, change, converge… dependent upon influences, circumstances and age.

You actually see Sally’s children play a much bigger role in showing this development when it comes to the book.

Despite my love of the film, I still would definitely recommend reading the book as it’s like reading two books based on the same topic – you can see the similarities but, once you accept they’re not the same, you can love both equally.

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Book Review: The Sorrows of Young Werther.

The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.W.v Goethe.

A novella about a young man, an artist and writer, who goes off to the country to enjoy what nature may inspire. In his enthusiasm for new experiences, and meeting new acquaintances, he fails to take heed of friendly warnings, and becomes obsessed with a local woman who’s promised to another man. Despite the fact Lotte marries Albert, Werther attempts to maintain a friendship but only succeeds in exciting his obsessions, resulting in him becoming more and more melancholy.

There are lots of beautiful descriptions of the environment and daily life that Werther observes, but what I grew weary of was how much of a sap Werther became. He was a self proclaimed “sensitive” soul, but he became so hapless without a daily fix of “his” Lotte. It always seemed like Lotte was either truly ignorant of Werther’s passions, or she took pleasure in seeing him so uncomfortable. As it turns out, she isn’t the latter but I can’t really see her being entirely ignorant either, but it seemed like she did nothing in an attempt to prevent his attachment to her.

The book is set out in three parts, part one and two are as if we’re reading letters that Werther writes to an old friend about his life and love, as well as attempting to rid himself of his hopeless feelings once Lotte marries. Part three is an overview of Werther’s life as if written by an editor and contains snippets of things he wrote to his friend, as well as his final letter to Lotte.

Personally, the book wasn’t what I expected it to be. I found myself getting quite annoyed with the characters, and situations that went on. At 170 pages or so, it was hardly a difficult read though. Worth reading if you enjoy reading letters; or reading lots of observations on daily life, seasons, emotions, human interactions, etc…

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Book Review: Heart of Darkness.

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.

 

At just over 100 pages, this is probably one of the shortest books I’ve read since I was a child. It has no elaborate plot full of twists and turns but, what it does have, is lots of really vivid descriptions of life on the sea and exploring regions in Africa.

The book’s set around the late 1800s (which is when it was written), Joseph himself had been a sailor at an earlier stage of his life before settling in England as he was originally from the Ukraine. The book explores issues around race, the wilds of Africa, culture, death, and human nature.

It makes me think of those talkative, little old men that want to tell anyone who’ll listen about their lives, as this is a Marlow’s adventure he’s telling to a new crew of sailors about his youth in search of a man named Kurtz, and what he encountered along the way. This is around the time of ivory traders, witchcraft, ‘savages’, and social ignorance.

This is just a brief telling of an adventure, but such a vibrant journey that has Marlow questioning himself and those around him. He begins to believe that it is the wilds of Africa – venturing into the ‘heart of darkness’ of the natural world – that can infect a soul, and drive them insane.

It really is a beautifully written “modern classic” that well deserves the critical acclaim, though it does feel as if it ends rather abruptly.

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