Alice Hoffman – „Practical Magic“

Viele von euch kennen den Film „Zauberhafte Schwestern“ mit Sandra Bullock und Nicole Kidman aus dem Jahr 1998. Vorab: ich liebe diesen Film – und nun hatte ich endlich die Zeit und die richtige Stimmung, um Alice Hoffmans literarische Vorlage zu genießen.

„For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town.“

(Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic, p. 3)


Auffallend ist, dass der Film doch in vielen Teilen erheblich von der Buchversion abweicht – und das ist keine negative Sache – im Gegenteil. Ich zolle den Regisseuren und Bearbeitern der Buchvorlage großen Respekt, dass sie die Geschichte zu diesem wundervollen und geliebten Film so großartig umgearbeitet haben. Der Kern ist gleich geblieben: Sally, Gillian, die große Liebe, der Tod von Sallys Ehemann, die zwei Kinder und natürlich Gillians plötzlich toter Freund, der die beiden auch aus dem Grab heraus heimsucht.

„Those people who warn you that you can’t run away because your past will track you down may be right on target. Sally looks out the front window. There on the porch is the girl who could get into more trouble than anyone, all grown up. It’s been too many years, it’s been an eternity, but Gillian is as beautiful as ever, only dusty and jittery and so weak in the knees that when Sally throws open the door, Gillian has to lean against the brick wall for support.“

(Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic, p. 67)


Ein schöner Nebeneffekt der ursprünglichen Buchgeschichte ist, dass man endlich auch mal ein wenig mehr über den von Nicole Kidman gespielten Charakter Gillian erfährt. In der Filmversion ist es sie, die das Problem sozusagen mit nach Hause bringt und letztendlich doch Single bleibt, während Sally (gespielt von Sandra Bullock) ihre Liebe findet. Die Buchversion ist hier etwas gnädiger zu Gillian und Alice Hoffman hat ihrem Charakter auch eine glückliche Liebesbeziehung verschafft. Die Schritte auf dem Weg zum Glück für Gillian und Ben wurden von der Autorin wunderbar leicht geschrieben und passen sich perfekt der Handlung der Geschichte an. Und außerdem wäre es doch schade, wenn Gillian ohne Happy-End bliebe, oder?

„Gillian wrinkles her nose. ‚Anyway, it wasn’t luck.‘

Kylie rolls onto her stomach so she can study her aunt’s dreamy face. ‚Then what was it?‘

‚Destiny.‘ Gillian closes her biology textbook. She has the best smile in the world, Kylie will certainly grant her that. ‚Fate.'“

(Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic, p. 161)

Natürlich kommen auch die Tanten im Buch nicht zu kurz, obwohl natürlich ihre Beschreibung nicht an die Filmversion herankommt. Kann natürlich auch sein, dass ich diesbezüglich etwas „vorbelastet“ bin, da ich den Film zuerst gesehen habe, bevor ich das Buch las. Und natürlich waren Stockard Channing und Diane Wiest in ihren Rollen so fantastisch, dass man immer ihre Erscheinung im Blick haben wird, wenn man einmal beide Versionen gesehen bzw. gelesen hat.

„The Aunts are so old it’s impossible to tell their age. Their hair is white and their spines are crooked. They wear long black skirts and laced leather boots. Though they haven’t left Massachusetts in more than forty years, they’re certainly not intimidated by travel. Or by anything else, for that matter. They know what they want and they’re not afraid to be outspoken, which is why they pay no attention to the other passenger’s complaints, and continue to direct the driver on how to place the larger suitcase on the curb carefully.“

(Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic, p. 248)


Alice Hoffman ist eine wunderbare Autorin, die es schafft, ihre Leser in ihre Buchwelten zu ziehen und es uns Lesern erlaubt, uns ein wenig in ihren Welten zu verlieren, mit ihren Charakteren zu fühlen und zu erleben.


Ich werde die Geschichte der Owens-Familie noch weiter verfolgen – welche Jahreszeit wäre dazu besser geeignet als der Herbst. Derzeit lese ich gerade die Geschichte von den Tanten – Franny und Jet, die Alice Hoffman in „The Rules of Magic“ erzählt. Danach folgt noch „Magic Lessons„, die Geschichte von Maria Owens, die Vorfahrin von Sally und Gillian, die einst den „Familienfluch“ erschuf.

Kennt ihr die Bücher von Alice Hoffman? Wenn ja, welche habt ihr schon gelesen und wie war eure Leseerfahrung?

Emily Gunnis: „The Girl in the Letter“

This short article will only be in english language. The german version of this book is available, titled „Das Haus der Verlassenen“.


This book  in its english version followed my thoughts a long time. I don’t recall exactly when I have seen it first, but it was kind of haunting. Then the german version got my eye in a bookstore, but not the way the english one was at my thoughts – even though the cover design was the same.

So – after some more re-thinking I went and ordered „The Girl in the Letter“ – for I love stories that have actions in different times (here it is 1956 and 2017) and the characters seemed to be written quite well.

And then it arrived…

The storyline set in 1956 evolves around a girl named Ivy Jenkins, who got pregnant and is now facing a hard time in St. Margaret’s, a home for unmarried pregnant women. She was forced to go there by her „step-dad“, as you could call him. Her real dad died during the war and her mother is too emotionally paralysed to step up for her daughter. So Ivy is sent away – and from this moment on she lives in pure horror, for the „home“ is nothing more than a workplace with no one to really care for the young women and their children.

„Tuesday 5 March 1957

Ivy lay in the dark, staring up at the beamed ceiling, listening to the young girl in the next bed crying quietly. The dormitory was bitterly cold. Every girl lay on their side, curled up in a ball, trying to stay warm. The locked window next to Ivy’s bed had no curtains, and the moon cast a beam on the poor girl beside her. She was so young, she looked like she still belonged in school. She’d had puppy fat when she had first arrived, and a colour on her cheeks, but now her collarbone jutted out from under her overalls and her pale skin pulled at her haunted eyes, from which tears were now falling.“

(Emily Gunnis, The girl in the Letter, page 202)


In 2017 a young journalist named Samantha struggles with her life. She is currently living with her grandmother and her own daughter while being estranged from the childs father. Her own mother died some time ago and she is kind of unhappy with her work situation, having to rely too much on her Nana for taking care of her daughter.

„The lift was broken again. Sam climbed the steps of the Whitehawk Estate stairwell two at a time and let herself into Nana’s flat where she and Emma were staying after storming out during a particularly bad row with Ben two months before. […] ‚I am sorry again for working late and you having to look after Emma, and missing your birthday and having to stay with you…I’m just sorry for being born, basically.‘ – ‚Well, I am not, I’d be lost without you.‘ Nana kissed both Sam and Emma, then disappeared down the corridor.“

(Emily Gunnis, The Girl in the Letter, page 24/30)


Then Samanthas grandmother gives her some letters she has found and Sam takes time out of her job to get to know more about that girl named Ivy that wrote these letters –  and soon she wants to find out more about why she was taken to St. Margarets and why no one of her family helped her.

Sam soon discovers things that also have something to do with her own life – more than she realises at first.

She is about to uncover murderous secrets and untold family history that will change her view of family forever…


„The Girl in the Letter“ is definitely a page-turner and a good book to read.

If you love secrets and mysteries wrapped in a story spanning over different times – this book is just right for you.


And – Emily Gunnis has already published another novel: „The lost Child“, which is also set in different times (1960 & 2014) and has – just like „The Girl in the Letter“ – a lot to do with family history.