Magic Lessons : The Prequel to Practical Magic
by Hoffman, Alice

"In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic"-

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including Magic Lessons, The World That We Knew, Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic, the Oprah&;s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Red Garden, The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, and Faithful. She lives near Boston.

In 1600s England, Hannah Owens teaches the Nameless Art to a foundling child, Maria, a natural witch with power flowing through her bloodline. Basic tenets: Always love someone who will love you back. What you send out into the world, you will receive back threefold. When Maria meets John Hathorne and he subsequently leaves for his home of Salem, Massachusetts, she sets out after him, intent upon sharing a life. Things in Salem are not what she had envisioned, but Maria knows that "if you had the strength, you could change your fate." This prequel to Hoffman's Practical Magic (2017) reveals how the Owens women, who also appear in The Rules of Magic (1995), came to be cursed. In Hoffman's simple but luminous prose, all characters, even the villains, are not only vividly, but also compassionately, rendered. Descriptions of magic combine with herbology and folk remedy. Hoffman adeptly highlights that how one uses a talent, selflessly or selfishly, has a sweeping impact on many lives, meaning that one should always choose courage, and that love is the only answer.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hoffman's best-seller level fans, and all looking for wisely magical reads, will be seek this new tale about the powerful Owens women. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Set in late-17th-century England and America, the pre-prequel to Hoffmanâ??s Practical Magic (1995) and The Rules of Magic (2017) covers the earliest generations of magically empowered Owens women and the legacy they created. In 1664, Hannah Owens, practitioner of â??the Nameless Artâ? sometimes called witchcraft, finds baby Maria abandoned near her isolated cottage in Essex County, England. She lovingly teaches ancient healing methods to Maria, whose star birthmark indicates inherent magical powers; and since Hannah considers ink and paper the most powerful magic, she also teaches Maria reading and writing. After vengeful men murder Hannah in 1674, Maria escapes first to her unmotherly birth mother, a troubled practitioner of dark, self-serving magic, then to Curaçao as an indentured servant. At 15 she is seduced by 37-year-old American businessman John Hathorne (his name an allusion to Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote about mistreatment of marked women). Enchanted by the island, Puritan Hathorne loses his rigidity long enough to impregnate Maria before returning to Salem, Massachusetts, without saying goodbye. Maria, with new daughter Faith, whose birthmark is a half-moon, follows him. The ship on which she travels is captained by a Sephardic Jew who gives her passage in return for treating his sonâ??s dengue fever, an excuse for Hoffman to link two long-standing unfair persecutionsâ?"of smart women as witches and Jews as, well, Jews. That Maria will find a truer love with warmhearted Jewish sailor Sam than with icy Hathorne makes sense in terms of later Owens womenâ??s stories. For the earlier books to work, Maria must found her female dynasty in Salem, but first she and Faith face betrayals, mistakes, and moral challenges. Maria uses her powers to help others but often misreads her own future with devastating results; separated from Maria during her childhood, emotionally damaged Faith is tempted to use her grandmotherâ??s selfish â??left-handedâ? magic. Master storyteller Hoffmanâ??s tale pours like cream but is too thick with plot redundancies and long-winded history lessons. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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