Title: Magic Lessons
Author: Alice Hoffman
Read by: Sutton Foster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 13 hours and 26 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio. Thank-you!
I have enjoyed Alice Hoffman’s novels for the last twenty years. She writes a bit of magic into each of them. Practical Magic was the first novel I read by her. I enjoyed the prequel to Practical Magic, Rules of Magic, that came out a few years ago. I was delighted to discover that this year she had published a prequel to both of those books about Maria Owens, the ancestor who is discussed in both of those novels. Magic Lessons was a great historical fiction novel and if I’m honest, it’s my favorite of the Practical Magic trilogy. It finally answers the questions, who was Maria Owens and what is the curse that has followed the family throughout time?
Maria Owens was a foundling in England born with a gift in the 1600’s. Luckily, Hannah, another woman with the gift of magic found her and raised her as her own. After tragedy strikes, a young Maria sets sail for the new world. While on an island in the Caribbean, she falls in love with a stranger. After finding she is with child, she travels to Salem, Massachusetts to find him and tell him about their child. What does she find that causes the curse to be cast?
I enjoyed this entire story of Maria and her daughter Faith. I loved the look into the 17th century and how women were called out as witches for being different or for basically being healers for the times. Maria and Faith are actual witches who have a magical gift, but the women who were killed in both England and the United States were killed for being different or as scapegoats. Maria is a strong woman who did what she wanted to do, which was frowned upon at this time. Women were not supposed to question men or live on their own. I also liked the overall theme that Maria often thinks about, “what you set out into the world came back to you threefold.” Whenever you do something good or something bad, it will come back to you again threefold. It’s a powerful motivator to make sure you are doing good in the world. I also loved the overall love story in the novel.
I love Hoffman’s use of language in her novels and beautiful descriptions. Sutton Foster was a great audiobook narrator and I enjoyed listening to this story.
“When you fall in love like that, time doesn’t matter. This was the secret he told Maria, the last words he ever said. What belonged to you once, will always belong to you. Be grateful if you have walked through the world with another’s heart in your hand.”
“Likely it was true that the flaws you saw in other women you didn't notice in yourself.”
“No one knows where time goes, all the same it disappears.”
“It was always best to step into the future while it was still waiting for you.”
Overall, Magic Lessons is a magical look into the 17th century and the start of the Owens curse.