Lorraine's Reviews > The Magician's Assistant

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
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's review
Jan 25, 2016

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Read in January, 2016

This is the review I wrote in 2011. I just read the book again not realizing I had read it previously. Next time I will check my reviews. I think Patchett tried to include too much in one book and that is probably the weakest part of this novel. It is almost two novels in one.

The Magician's Assistant begins with "Parsifal is dead. That is the end of the story." It really is not the end of the story, but just the beginning. Sabine was Parsifal, the magician's assistant for 20 years. They have been married for one year and only after his partner Phan dies of AIDS.

Yes, this is an unorthodox marriage and why Sabine accepted this unusual arrangement is not clear. Why a beautiful woman like her falls in love with a man she knows is gay, is unusual, yet the author hints at the reasons, but not fully.

When Parsifal dies unexpectedly of an aneurysm, Sabine learns that he has a family in Nebraska, and they are not dead as he always insisted. The novel goes from free wheeling Los Angeles to Alliance, Nebraska. Sabine is depressed, lonely and despondent, thus she decides to visit his family to find out why he left many years ago and never returned. The novel takes many twists and turns, is a fascinating read, but not as powerful as Patchett’s other novels—particularly, "Bel Canto" and "Truth and Beauty." Still, a good read. I enjoy exploring an author's works and realize each one cannot be equal. She is an outstanding writer.

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