Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

Parsifal is dead. That is the end of the story.

Title: The Magician's Assistant
Author: Ann Patchett
ISBN: 8790156006217

Publisher: Harcourt Brace/1997

Pages: 357

Give a brief summary of the book:

After the death of Parsifal, a magician, his wife Sabine...who was also his assistant for twenty years..is astounded to learn that the family he always denied having is very much alive. Sabine is devastated by this and triels to unravel the secrets of his life. When Parsifal's family invite her to visit them in Nebraska, she leaves Los Angeles for the cold, bitter planes of Nebraska. And she is somehow sucked into that family, into the love they share


Patchett manages to build up a great story. She slowly reveals the secret of Parsifal's deception. Sabine might have married him but he has a steady relationship with someone else. His family takes some time to assimilate this. But they love Sabine for herself, not because she is Parsifal's widow. Sabine is the magician's assistant... a lesser known personality...but she knows about magic as much as any magician. No magician can do without any assistant.


I felt it got a bit repetitive in the middle. Although I wanted to know Sabine's feelings and emotions but somehow it was diluted by the slow pace. It did pick up in the end though.

Additional Thoughts:

Ann Patchett's prose is good. Her thoughts are lucid. Her characters are very much real. They are endearing too despite foibles and follies. Patchett has added fantasy elements in the dream sequences. I especially liked that. Sabine can interact with those characters in her dreams. Also the fact that Sabine is practical and a realist. On her quest to find the truth, Sabine too finds herself and experiences love in a way, which had been denied to her.

Also reviewed by

Margaret of BooksPlease


Anonymous said...

Ann Patchett does indeed know how to string words together. Her prose is beautiful, I agree. Read her novel, Bel Canto and loved it.

This novel sounds interesting. Will be on the lookout for it.