Thursday, February 18, 2021

Magic Lessons

  Magic Lessons
Author:  Alice Hoffman
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2020. 416 pages.
ISBN:  1982108843 / 978-1982108847

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "She was found on a January day in a field where the junipers grew, wound in a blue blanket with her name carefully stitched along the border with silk thread."

Favorite Quote:  "What gifts you had, you were meant to share. What you set out into the world came back to you threefold."

A disclaimer to start with. I have read several books by Alice Hoffman. Each of them has been completely different, and each has been a delightful read in its own way. That includes The Rules of Magic, which is a story of the Owens family as this one is. However, enough time as passed such that it really does not impact my reading of this book. Magic Lessons is the origin story of the Owens clan. The Rules of Magic is about a curse that surrounds the Owens family. Magic Lessons includes the story of how and why that curse comes to be.

That being said, each book stands completely on its own. No doubt the experience is a different one if you have not read the other books. However, I feel engaged enough with the characters in this book and the book tells a complete story.

The story travels from England to Curacao to Boston to Salem to Manhattan and back again. The book incorporates into it the history of the witch hunts of Salem. It does so all in the context of the life of Maria Owens. Maria is a bloodline witch. In other words, she is born of a witch, and her talents are part of her.

Although witchcraft is a huge part of this book, it is at the same time a relatable story. Maria begins life a a baby abandoned. She finds love in an adoptive home only to lose that to violence. She find courage to begin again. She uses her courage and fortitude to survive many challenges including indentured servitude. She finds the courage once again to chase a dream. When the dreams turns out to be a nightmare, she begins again, this time with her daughter. Prejudice, hatred, and fear turns her life upside down again. She survives a loss no parent should ever face. Along the way, she also finds helpers and friends.

Throughout it all, the lesson that Maria is taught as child is the refrain of this book. It repeats throughout. "Do as you will, but harm no one. What you give will be returned to you threefold." Part of the story also demonstrates the consequences of not following that lesson. "There were sinister aspects o magic, and what you brought into this world was your responsibility, to deal with forever more." The other repeating refrain of this book is to own who you are and to make your own path. "Fate is what you make of it ... You can make the best of it, or you can let it make the best of you." All important lessons. The lessons may be depicted in terms of magic, but they apply to everyday life.

The character of Maria and the lessons of the book keep me reading until the very last page. This book truly brings to life its world and creates characters that feel so real. The fictional world is not an easy ones and at times not even a pleasant one. Yet, at the same time, it is one in which I want to stay immersed for a  little while. Perhaps, I will reread The Rules of Magic or actually read Practical Magic, which is still on my "to read" list. Either way, I look forward to what Alice Hoffman will write next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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