The Magician's Wife
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The Magician's Wife

3.03 of 5 stars 3.03  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  64 reviews
In this mesmerising novel that blends political intrigue and moral inquiry with an unforgettable portrait of a lady, Brian Moore takes us into the deserts of Algeria and the courts of Napoleon III. Based on a small but remarkable moment in history, this is the rich and moving story of an illusionist's wife who finds herself unexpectedly entangled in the politics of the Imp...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 20th 1998 by Vintage Canada (first published 1997)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Nov 22, 2013 Jennifer (aka EM) marked it as abandoned-forever
I can't take it any more. This is such a disappointment - especially from the other Brian Moores I've read, Black Robe and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, both of which are brilliant.

It's amateurishly told with a main character, the titular wife, who is some weird combination of a bored 1950s soap opera housewife and a 14-year-old teen with no self-esteem who cares only for hair, make-up and clothes. And this is supposed to take place in 1856 (post-Revolution) Paris and Algiers? As convinc...more
Quite a few scenes in this book captured me, including the serie with Napoleon III and Lambert's critical performance. I found Emmeline interesting as the character through whom the story unfolds. Her sense of unfairness and injustice ring true, and her act of rebellion later in the story feels meaningful. I wonder if other colonial people in Algiers had similar views of dissent amidst the militaristic fervor.

Moore's prose is good, though I do wish he included the other senses with his colorful...more
This is a deceptively simple novel. For the first half of the book, you are ushered into the lavish court of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, seen through the yes of the timid Emmeline, the magician's wife. The descriptions of the clothing and entertainments are wonderfully accurate. In the second half, you are drawn into the magician's secret mission to Algeria, where Emmeline gradually awakens to the horrible truth of Napolean's designs on the country and her husband's role in them. This is n...more
Hocus pocus...historical fiction is magically transformed into a desert political thriller...a thoughtful morality fable...and even a Flaubertian tale of romantic-realism. The literary talents of the underrated Northern Irish/Canadian novelist are on display in this sleight of hand novel about Henri Lambert, master illusionist, and his much younger and beautiful provincial wife, Emmeline, who is the true charmer in this tale of mid-19th-century France and Algeria at the moment of colonial confli...more
Galen Johnson
Emmeline Lambert is the quietly unhappy wife of an almost hermetic magician; her husband suddenly becomes ambitious again when invited by the emperor and his wife to spend a week among royalty. Henri, the magician, is asked to go to Algeria to perform his magic in an attempt to awe the natives, and Emmeline accompanies him but gradually breaks out of her shell in the foreign country.

Interesting story, slightly predictable with somewhat stilted characters, but well-written enough to hold attentio...more
Carlos Mock
The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore

It's 1856, a year before the French conquer Algeria.

Henri Lambert is a famous magician. Colonel Charles Deniau, Head of Napoleon III's Bureau Arabe, is trying to convince Lambert to perform the feat of his life: to convince the Arabs in Algeria that the French have greater sorcerers than the Arabs - and prevent an all out war with the French before the French are ready to invade.

To do this, Lambert must travel to Algiers and perform magic that has never been see...more
1856: Το Αλγέρι βρίσκεται υπό γαλλική κατοχή και υπάρχει ο φόβος της κήρυξης ιερού πολέμου από το ισλάμ, που θα εμποδίσει τα επεκτατικά πλάνα του Γάλλου αυτοκράτορα. Ο συνταγματάρχης Ντενιό πείθει τον αυτοκράτορα και θέτει σε εφαρμογή το σχέδιό του. Φέρνει στο Αλγέρι το διασημότερο ταχυδακτυλουργό, το Λαμπέρ, συνοδευόμενο από τη νεαρή γυναίκα του, Εμελίν, για να κάνει επίδειξη των ικανοτήτων του στους φανατικούς θρησκόληπτους Άραβες. Το σχέδιο περιέχει ουσιαστικά το marketing των επιδείξεων του...more
This book bothered me. All Emmeline ever does is whine, all Lambert ever does is pose, and all Deniau ever does is plot. I do not recommend it unless you enjoy a whole lot of buildup to an utter let-down of an ending.
Kristi Jones
I've read two books by this author. Supposedly Graham Greene is quoted as describing him as a great author. Both books left me feeling that the entire story was unresolved. Big thumbs down, as far as I'm concerned.
Aug 21, 2014 Lafcadio rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lucille
Shelves: suite, 850-905, glitter
Rather disappointed by this book. Bestseller my ass. It was boring and I didn't find myself identifying with any of the characters.
Not so much a book as a screenplay, with so many of the scenes seeming to be written for cinematic effect as much as meaning for the plot or character development.

Although they mesh as intended influences on the central character Emmeline, the visit to Compeigne and other colourful events aren't completely convincing as plot elements. Indeed, it's unclear why Deniau knows that Emmeline is either beautiful or significant to manipulating Lambert given that he had never seen or met her previously.

If I could, I would rate this book 3 1/2 stars, based on the author's knowledge of his subject and the sweeping scope of this novel. "The Magician's Wife" begins in 1850's France, and tells the story of Emmeline, lovely young wife of a world-famous magician, who, after being swept off her feet and marrying the famous Henri Lambert, finds herself living a quiet, lonely existence in a small village in France. Her life changes suddenly, and dramatically, when Henri is summoned to the country estate...more
It is 1856 Second Empire France under Napoleon III. A naive French provincial wife, a master illusionist driven by ambition and a skillful diplomat/politician interact with the Muslim tribal chiefs in Algeria. The objective: to convince the Arabs that the master illusionist is more powerful than the tribes' greatest marabout, thus forestalling a jihad and giving the French soldiers time to recuperate from their Crimean victory to exercise the coup de gras that will secure all of Algeria for Fren...more
Jeff Anderson
This was a thoughtful look at a young woman's ideas and feelings as her husband participates in furthering French imperialistic goals in Algeria in the late 1800's. I enjoyed the story and agreed with some of the lessons the young woman learned along the way. It is somewhat disconcerting however to be shown the mind of a woman by a male author and I found it hard to take the author seriously at times. There are far too many stories that unrealistically resolve every problem the characters face....more
The titular character, as wife of the pre-eminent illusionist Henri Lambert, is whisked from her rural solitude in provincial France to the court of Emperor Napoleon III and to the French colonial ambitions in 1850s Algeria. The author's eye to historical detail is impressive, particularly in recapturing the social airs and graces of the royal court. As her husband's deft abilities to deceive are employed to further French imperial designs on Algeria by quelling any potential native uprising, Em...more
I really think this is more 2 and a half stars but I rounded up. I know this is a novel based upon a 'true' story but I really wanted Emmeline to BE more and to push the customary boundaries more than she did. I felt her character could have developed into a fuller self. This is why 2 1/2 stars seems more appropriate. The reason I rounded up is that Moore writes well enough to keep me intrigued until the end...but then I wanted MORE after that...what happens when Emmeline gets home? How has she...more
The first half of the book is about the woman's experiences among the French Court. The second half is about her experiences in Algeria. It's romantic themes tend towards flirtations with other men while she is married to a man who ignores her. I find it hard to believe that a woman in that time period would always be unaccompanied by others of her own sex. She has no friends and so she spends her time with Col. Deniau and no one seems to notice. C'mon...this is the early 19th century. Didn't fi...more
Debbie Maskus
This is a story set in the 1870's in France and Algeria, and based very loosely an actual events. The amazing content of the story is the magician and his "bag of tricks" to fool the "ignorant" masses. The detail given to the clothes and food and setting propelled the story. The story has a hint of forbidden romance, but the final resolution is sad. A look at the life and inhibitations of the 1870's. The scenes at the get-together with the Emperor and Empress are both amazing and disgusting. I m...more
A poor rendition of Mme. Bovary. Waste of time.
I liked this! It was a light read, but perfect for traveling. Set in 1800s with French characters who voyage to Africa. I liked the exploration of the story's premise - that a European magician was sent to delude African Muslims into thinking that the Europeans had a better relationship with God because of this magic. I liked that the story had enough twists to keep me wondering what was going to happen. There are some good critical point in the book. A decent ending. Glad to have stumbled acros...more
Gregg Bell
In this day and age of vampires, zombies and all the other paranormal characters that are so prevalent, The Magician's Wife is a look at a world of magic populated by HUMAN BEINGS (and Moore's human beings are much more interesting than any zombies or werewolves!)

Moore puts you right in the exotic locales his characters visit. He puts you right inside their heads. His insights into life are immense. His writing style is fluid and effortless.

You will not be disappointed by this book. Impossible!
I quite enjoyed this novel, especially after reading the fast moving, emotion charged Suzanne Collins series (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay). Wife is a departure from many of the heavier HF novels I pick up. This is light, quick to read and is placed in the era where Napoleon was planning to capture Algeria. Inspired by a true story, it gives one a glance into the culture, political intrigue, and religious beliefs and activities of the time - a most interesting little read.
Se podría describir, con sus 220 páginas, como una novela corta, y está bien que así sea. Lo más interesante de la historia es el hecho real en el que se basa (Houdini siempre me tienta), pero la verdad es que se queda en poco más que anécdota. Su valor como reflexión sobre los poderes conquistadores y el belicismo pierde ciertos matices con el tiempo: no en vano se escribió por 1997 (si mal no recuerdo)... luego llegaría septiembre de 2001 y todo lo que vino después...
Gill Wyatt
I read The Magician's Wife whilst on holiday. I found it easy to pick up and put down again without losing the thread of the plot. Brian Moore describes both bustling market place and stark desert beautifully and my fascination with his characters gradually grew.
The book is very simply written and the tale holds both strong emotion, politics, morality and much, much more.I recommend this book to those looking for a quick and easy, but exciting read.
historical novel during napoleon III and in alegeria. the magician is sent from french court to sahara to convince those hillbillies that france's "magic" and power are enough to rule their homelands. the wife tranforms to boring bojo to hot colonialist with a braoder outlook. based on true story. brian moore is avery good writer. they say his tradmarks are: suspense, political upheavel, and moral chaos. i'd say that sums this book up well.
Jonathan picked this up for me at the thrift store, momentarily confusing it with The Time Traveler's Wife. It turned out to be a fun read, but overall just ok. I of course had to research the historical facts since it is "inspired by a true story" and yes, Napoleon III did send the magician Robert-Houdin to Algeria for political reasons. Tres interssant.
Mary Alice
Set in the mid 1800's, this is the story of a magician's patriotic trip to Africa to "perform" for the good of his country, (France then ruled by Napoleon III). We see the setup from his young, beautiful wife's point of view.

Parts of the books dragged, but the last 75 pages were very exciting.
Maxine McDonald
The book was ok, but not the best I've read. I did learn about the period and how difficult it was to dress and go anywhere with so many clothes and servants to help you change clothes so many times per day!
It takes place in France and Algeria during the reign of Napoleon III.
I needed a book to catch me up so I couldn't put it down. This is the book. A small book, it takes the reader to NapoleonIii Court, then off to Algeria. Part thriller, part Historical novel, all while being a great travel log. One of my favorite books read this year.
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Brian Moore (1921–1999) was born into a large, devoutly Catholic family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father was a surgeon and lecturer, and his mother had been a nurse. Moore left Ireland during World War II and in 1948 moved to Canada, where he worked for the Montreal Gazette, married his first wife, and began to write potboilers under various pen names, as he would continue to do throughout...more
More about Brian Moore...
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