Alice Hoffman has charmed her way into our hearts with her magical, atmospheric, and wildly captivating reads. From love-sick witches to daring girls searching for freedom, all Alice’s characters are boundlessly unique and loveable in their own ways. As readers ready their shelves for Alice’s newest book in her Practical Magic series, Magic Lessons, we’re reminiscing about some of our favorite Hoffman titles. With over thirty pieces of fiction in her repertoire, this was a tough list to narrow down, but no matter which title you choose to pick up first, we guarantee you’ll be won over by Alice’s spellbinding stories.
8 Spellbinding Books by Alice Hoffman That Will Fill You With Love and Hope
Elizabeth's Pick: THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW opens with a mother determined to do everything she can to protect her family. The landscape is dark – Berlin, in the grip of the Nazis and on the precipice of a catastrophic war which will claim the lives of millions. Hanni Kohn breaks all rules and traditions in order to provide a mythical guardian for her daughter, a fearsome woman devoted to twelve-year-old Lea and dedicated to keeping her alive at any cost. Together with a local Rabbi’s rebellious daughter, they escape for France and seek out love and happiness against the backdrop of war. Magical realism and deeply researched history weave together to capture not only a moment in time, but also the passion of those who fought for survival and joy when the world around them was crumbling. A beautiful book to read when you want to be reminded there will always be those who fight for the good.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
On the brink of World War II, with the Nazis tightening their grip on Berlin, a mother’s act of courage and love offers her daughter a chance of survival.
“[A] hymn to the power of resistance, perseverance, and enduring love in dark times…gravely beautiful…Hoffman the storyteller continues to dazzle.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
At the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.
What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never-ending.
Hannah's Pick: The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a Coney Island freak show put together by Coralie Sardie’s father. Coralie’s exceptional swimming ability sparks an idea in her conniving and sinister father. As part of his efforts to capitalize on the unusual, he showcases daughter as a mermaid alongside his other unusual acts. This story is beautifully woven with Alice’s signature spark of magic, while telling a tale of young love in turbulent times.
Coralie Sardie’s father runs a Coney Island freak show where she appears as “the Mermaid,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. When she meets Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant photographer, they become embroiled in a moving story of young love in tumultuous times.
Hannah's Pick: This forbidden-love story is set on the tropical island of St. Thomas in the 1800s. Despite her longing to live out her dreams in Paris, Rachel must save her father’s business by marrying a widower with three children of his own. It is not until this older husband dies that Rachel is truly able to take her life into her own hands. Suddenly, her deceased husband’s handsome and much younger nephew, Frédéric, arrives from France to settle the estate. Without warning, a defiant and passionate love affair sparks a scandal that affects Rachel’s entire family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro
Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro is a woman full of fire and life. A businesswoman, a romantic, a renegade, she’s quite the nineteenth-century badass, not taking anyone else’s advice on how to live her life. I respect and admire her passion, vulnerability, and fearlessness in the face of the judgment of her insular St. Thomas community. She followed her heart, suffered for it, and lived the life she wanted—with a great love and many children, one of whom was the artist Camille Pissarro, father of Impressionism. No doubt, she would command the room.
Elizabeth's Pick: New York City’s Greenwich village makes for the perfect backdrop to Alice Hoffman’s THE RULES OF MAGIC, which is a prequel to her earlier beloved novel PRACTICAL MAGIC. In PRACTICAL MAGIC, readers fell in love with two young sisters being raised by their elderly aunts, Franny and Jet, and from whom the sisters learn about the power of magic and their family’s spellbinding history. In THE RULES OF MAGIC, Hoffman reveals Franny and Jet’s origins as teenagers coming of age – and into their powers – in 1960s Manhattan. Along with their brother Victor, the siblings discover their family’s legacy and risk confronting an inherited curse which cautions them against falling love. Will they defy the family curse, or chance it for love?
An instant New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from beloved author Alice Hoffman—the spellbinding prequel to Practical Magic.
Find your magic.
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Yet, the children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.
Alice Hoffman delivers “fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle” (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is “irresistible…the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters” (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars).
Hannah's Pick: Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Alice Hoffman’s book THE DOVEKEEPERS is based on this iconic historical event. The story follows four courageous women—Yael, Revka, Aziza, and Shirah. The lives of these women all intersect during the desperate days of the siege to create a striking story of resilience deeply rooted in history.
Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against Roman armies on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. The source for the recent CBS miniseries, The Dovekeepers is a beautifully written and captivating tale of four women whose lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege.
Holly's Pick: As a survivor of a devastating car crash that left her best and only friend in a coma, Shelby is living in the wake of tremendous tragedy. Her survivor’s guilt has taken a rough toll on her as she spirals into a deep depression. After moving to New York City on a whim in an attempt to start over, Shelby finally begins to pull herself out of her dark place and navigate a new life. Through the comfort of rescued dogs, Chinese food, and a circle of lost souls—including an angel who has been watching over her—Shelby rises to prove that finding joy is not as impossible as it may seem.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.
Holly's Pick: In THE RED GARDEN, Alice Hoffman introduces the haunting town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, where citizens have been linked by magic for over 300 years. At the center of everyone’s life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow. Packed with extraordinary and vivid characters, THE RED GARDEN is a Hoffman classic you won’t want to miss out on.
In exquisite prose, Alice Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters’ lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.
Holly's Pick: Keith Rosen has run away from home with an orphaned baby, leaving his mother perplexed, worried, and understandably confused. In an effort to find him, Keith’s mother departs on her own journey. The relationships in this story are messy as the characters attempt to sort out their their entanglements. TURTLE MOON further emphasizes Alice Hoffman’s extraordinary talent for storytelling. You’re bound to fall in love with the characters just as quickly as I did.
Each May, sea turtles follow the lights into the coastal town of Verity, Florida, thinking that the artificial glow is actually the moon. Not only do the turtles start to act up at this time of year—the town’s residents also begin acting strangely. But not every year does it lead to murder, missing children, and incredible searches into the depths of the swampy coast.