Tag Archives: magical realism

Review of Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman

I borrowed an audio copy of Alice Hoffman‘s Practical Magic through my local library. I finished it several days ago and forgot to write the review!

Description from Goodreads:

When the beautiful and precocious sisters Sally and Gillian Owens are orphaned at a young age, they are taken to a small Massachusetts town to be raised by their eccentric aunts, who happen to dwell in the darkest, eeriest house in town. As they become more aware of their aunts’ mysterious and sometimes frightening powers — and as their own powers begin to surface — the sisters grow determined to escape their strange upbringing by blending into “normal” society.

But both find that they cannot elude their magic-filled past. And when trouble strikes — in the form of a menacing backyard ghost — the sisters must not only reunite three generations of Owens women but embrace their magic as a gift — and their key to a future of love and passion.

Review:

If you’ve seen the 1998 movie by the same name you know the plot of this book. It was fairly loyal to the book. Though the book isn’t quite as intense as the movie, preferring a more modulated and thoughtful tone that I very much enjoyed. I appreciated the realness of the sisters, especially when contrasted with the everyday occurrences of magic in their and their ancestors’ lives. I thought the writing was lyrical and the narration on the audiobook lovely to listen to.

Review of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale

I won a copy of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale through Goodreads.

Description:
Almost immediately upon Julie Bird’s return to the small port town where she was raised, everyday life is turned upside down. Julie’s Gulf War vet father, Marty, has been on the losing side of a battle with PTSD for too long. A day of boating takes a dramatic turn when a majestic blue whale beaches itself and dies. A blond stranger sets up camp oceanside: she’s an agitator, musician-impersonator, and armchair philosopher named Jennie Lee Lewis — and Julie discovers she’s connected to her father’s mysterious trip to New Mexico 25 years earlier. As the blue whale decays on the beach, more wildlife turns up dead — apparently by suicide — echoing Marty’s deepest desire. But Julie isn’t ready for a world without her father.

Review:
Do you have a book club? Does it like to read those kind of obscure books that put metaphors and symbolism over…say, making sense and calls itself meaningful? Yea, that’s Land Mammals and Sea Creatures. I can see some literary book clubs that appreciate teasing out nuances liking this.

Me? I really just wanted to know what was happening with the animals and why no one seemed to investigate it, why JJL was so all knowing as a child and then as an adult, what was happening at the shows, and why no one ever tried get Marty into therapy if he’d been suicidal for almost 30 years. I actually really like Magical Realism, but I’m not willing to let it explain away everything. I still want answers in of some sort in the end.

I thought the writing was pretty. I love the cover. I liked some of the characters, especially Alan (the probably gay friend of Marty who’d spent Julie’s whole life stepping up to father on the side). But overall this book was a bust for me.

Review of The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan

I bought a copy of Ruth Hogan‘s The Keeper of Lost Things.


Description from Goodreads:
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—

Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?


Review:
You guys, I’m not a weeper, but there were several points during The Keeper of Lost Things that made me tear up and one that made me sob. (The last nursing home scene, for those who have or will read it. OMG, be strong my breaking heart!)

Yes, I disliked a few of the side stories and I would have like a little more resolution on a few point. (How did the wife die? How did Laura make up for the final horrible things she said to Freddie?) But more important than any small niggles I had was how much the book made me feel. I frequently chuckled and awed and, yes, cried. To me, this is the mark of a wonderful book.

I also really liked the characters, even Portia (Ok, like is a strong word, but I appreciated Portia.), and I thought the writing was beautiful, quaintly English and easy to read. I look forward to reading more of Hogan’s work and I have to thank my bookclub for picking this book for our monthly read. I doubt I’d have read it otherwise.