Review: Magic Lessons

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alice Hoffman's longtime readers will know that women of the Owens bloodline, practitioners of the Nameless Art, have suffered from troubles of the heart for generations. "Beware of love, Maria Owens had written on the first page of her journal. Know that for our family, love is a curse. The curse, according to Maria's writings, was simply "Ruination for any man who falls in love with them." How did the curse come about? We learned a little about it in The Rules of Magic which gives us the backstory of how Sally and Gillian came to live with their aunts Franny and Jet and how Franny and Jet ended up living in the historic Owens family home. For instance, we know that Maria Owens fell in love with, and was ultimately betrayed by, the witchfinding magistrate of Salem, John Hathorne. But where and how?

Magic Lessons gives us Maria Owens' complicated story, beginning with her life as a foundling in Essex, England, where she is taken in and raised by Hannah Owens, a practitioner. When Hannah foresees and suffers her own horrible fate, Maria leaves England and searches for safety, having been sold by her stepfather (for she eventually meets her mother) for indentured service to a captain on a vessel sailing to the Dutch colony of Curaçao. There she must work for five years for a Dutch family to earn her freedom. She does and just as she is going to be free she meets their guest, a tradesman by the name of John Hathorne. After a few fateful days, Maria is left heartbroken, pregnant, and bound toward the Salem colony of Massachusetts, to catch up with the man she is sure she loves. Only does she? And does he love her? With so much of the magic of the Nameless Art centered on love (and its heartaches), Maria has failed to listen to Hannah Owens's cardinal rule- Always love someone who will love you back. She will pay a heavy price for this mistake, as will her daughter Faith, and the young Jewish man who saves Maria's and Faith's lives, just as Maria has saved his. But given Maria's uttered curse, perhaps Samuel Dias' price is just the price of happiness.

Magic Lessons is both a novel of historical fiction, looking at the era of the Salem Witch Trials, and a beautiful novel of fantasy, giving us the Owens family history. The elements of the Marrano history of the Sephardim in Portugal were a wonderful touch to the story, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I am, however, now hungry for the story of Hannah Owens, and for that of the enchanting Catherine Durant, another practitioner. You will never satisfy us, Alice!

After reading, I promptly listened to Sutton Foster's beautiful narration of the novel to enjoy the story all over again. Lessons learned? "Drink chamomile tea to calm the spirit. Feed a cold and starve a fever. Read as many books as you can. Always choose courage. Never watch another woman burn. Know that love is the only answer."

I received a paper and digital review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

~ ~ ~

Want to buy a copy of Magic Lessons from your local independent bookstore? Click HERE.

Want the digital audiobook of Magic Lessons to benefit your local independent bookstore? Click HERE.

Want your ebook purchase of Magic Lessons to benefit independent bookstores in general? Click HERE.

Follow Marzie's Reads on Bloglovin'.

© Marzie's Reads 2017-2020, All Rights Reserved.


Popular Posts