I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally endured that fate: As children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their darkened house and their love concoctions and their crowd of black cats. All Gillian and Sally wanted to do was escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back to each other, and to the magic they couldn’t escape. A delicious novel about witches and real love, family life and everyday spells. A literary incantation. (source)
I read this book for my tumblr book club - it's on our books-to-movies list and I decided to host it (aka write the discussion questions and lead the club in our group read of the book), even though I had never read it before, because I thought the title and the premise just looked so interesting. Sometimes, you really just have to trust your gut - and this is a case where doing just that paid off.
Alice Hoffman's storytelling style is so unique. She uses very little dialogue. While I usually love dialogue, I think it's awesome how Hoffman shows that you don't need to have characters talk a lot or show every little detail of their lives in order to make them come to life. I felt connected to each character who Hoffman wrote, even though they were mostly show to the reader through anecdotes. It's a very original way to tell a story and I'm really glad that Hoffman decided to go this untraditional route.
I also loved the little tidbits of advice. At the beginning of each section and scattered throughout, Hoffman sprinkled the text with kitschy little sayings, the kind you'd see printed on decorations at Cracker Barrel or another Mom'n'Pop restaurant. I thought these were so cool, because, while a lot of them were superstitious or old-fashioned, they were common sense advice, and I believe that, if followed, many of them would reap only good results. They're practical, and they added character to Hoffman's story.
I do have to admit, at times, it felt like the story wasn't really progressing. I think that's because there were so many little anecdotes, flashbacks, and cute little sayings. While I loved every moment of them, there were definitely times when I thought to myself, "Okay, is the story going to move along at some point?" Again, I liked what these little "extras" added - but I'd be lying if I didn't say that they didn't distract me sometimes from what was actually happening.
This was a great book and I'm really glad that I had a chance to read it. I'd never heard of it before we added it to our list, and I would've missed out on a great story, one that's filled with a lot of laughs, a bit of mystery, and just enough magic to add a bit of sparkle. I would definitely recommend adding this to your summer reading list!