Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Magnified World” as Want to Read:
Magnified World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Magnified World

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  49 reviews

A beautiful New Face of Fiction debut from a stunningly gifted young novelist about what it means to be a daughter, a patient, a lover and a human being who can carry on after a massive loss.
What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zirc
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Random House Canada (first published May 1st 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Magnified World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Magnified World

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  267 ratings  ·  49 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Vikki VanSickle
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was like stepping into summer; a dreamy, slightly surreal summer of a young woman who is losing her grip on reality. O'Connell's style is smooth and easy to read and very evocative. The book feels minimalist but also sensual, similar to Lisa Moore's style. The details are exquisite and Torontonians will appreciate the sights and smells of Queen Street West, which are vividly captured. Magnified World walks the fine line between literary and commercial fiction. Below the accessi ...more
Scott Callaway
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is normally not the kind of book I would pick up and read, but man am I ever glad I did. I won an advanced reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway and so not as a professional reviewer, but as a regular person who enjoys a good story, I am happy to give an honest review of Grace O'Connell's Magnified World.

This story had me from the start. It's the kind of story that is open and honest, and although it never kept me at the edge of my seat in suspense, it always made sure to be the
Jul 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012-reads
Maggie’s mother has always been a little “off”, but no one really anticipated that she would wake up one day, fill her pockets with zircons and walk calmly into the Don River. After the funeral Maggie takes the zircons out of the inventory of their New Age store and carries on life as usual, until she begins experiencing blackouts. Coinciding with these blackouts comes the arrival of notes and cards from a stranger named Gil. Gil soon materializes in the store seemingly knowing all about Maggie ...more
Andrea P.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Originally posted on Cozy Up With A Good Read

This book caught my attention right away with the synopsis, and being a Canadian book (I can't get enough of them!). I will admit it took me some time to get into the book, I was confused with the pacing of the writing, but as I kept going, I'm glad I did, I fell in love with this book! The one thing that I found hilarious was everyone Maggie encounters seems to be writing a book about something. I also really enjoyed that this book was set in Toronto
Teena in Toronto
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
I'd read about this book this month in the Toronto Star. It attracted me because it's set in Toronto. It actually takes place just northeast of us ... Maggie's store is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park, in the same block as our vet.

I liked the writing style. Written in first person, I was drawn to Maggie's story of how she is coping with the suicide of her mom and discovering who her mom was. I found the secondary characters like her dad, boyfriend and best friend cold and unsympath
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, books-i-own
I absolutely loved this stunning debut novel. O'Connell tells the fascinating story of Maggie, a twentysomething coming to terms with her mother's suicide, while also coping with her own potential psychoses. Her writing style is beautifully poetic, and the cherry on top is her fantastic use of Toronto as the book's setting. O'Connell's love for the city was so clearly apparent in her rich descriptions, especially of the Queen West strip where Maggie lives. I have to say, I'm particularly glad th ...more
Claire LaPlante
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Magnified World welcomes the reader into Toronto, and more specifically into the life of Maggie, and her family's new-age shop. The book is full of references to the healing power of crystals, the mystical predictions that tumble out of a pack of tarot cards, and the connection that we still have with our loved ones after they have moved on.

Despite all this, the magic of this book doesn't come from this world of new-age belief, but rather from the way that O'Connell describes the more commonplac
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thank you goodreads, Random House, and Grace O' Connell for providing this book for a giveaway. I had a difficult time putting it down.

O Connell draws us immediately into Maggie's grief, solitude, and confusion. What a sad, tragic young woman she is. As she experiences blackouts following her mother's suicide, Maggie struggles to maintain her sanity in a world populated by a distant boyfriend, a deceitful friend, a grieving father, and the non-existent author, Gil. Is he a delusion, a halucinati
2015 Reading Challenge: a book written by someone under 30.

This was not my cup of tea. I liked the story itself well enough but didn't like the way in which it was being told. I kept losing focus and found that I really wasn't as interested as I should have been.

Also, there were little, seemingly inconsequential things that bothered me. If you have a friend/girlfriend/daughter who's been having black-outs and has been in a bicyle accident because of these...would you let her drive when going som
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you Goodreads Giveaways and Random House Publishing for the gift of Grace O'Connell's 'Magnified World.' I look forward to receiving, reading and reviewing.

I enjoyed Grace O'Connell's interesting view of psychological illness. The novel started off strongly and I was immediately drawn into Maggie's torment between her tenacious grip on reality and her slipping off a cliff towards insanity.

The second half of the journey had me 'flying over the cuckoo's nest,' myself. I felt disoriented and
Ashley Carson
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-fiction
I was so sorry to close the cover and set the book down. Maybe I shouldn't have read it non-stop all this long weekend, but I couldn't resist the allure of the prose and the narrator's gentle searching sorrow. It was reminiscent of Lisa Moore's and Catherine Bush's prose (high praise indeed!) and I can't wait to read O'Connell's next novel.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book. Vivid language. Could not put it down.
Ida Auclond
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn’t my cup of tea. I could have adored it because I love new age stuff and psychology, but I didn’t like the “artistic direction”, if that means anything to you; I liked the ingredients, but not the final dish.

The writing is irreproachable, as you’d expect from an MFA. There are a few weird images along the way, but better that than clichés, I guess. There is a bit too much setting description to my taste: I often caught myself reading a sentence or even a paragraph without really
Cher Staite
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very much a YA fantasy.

This is all about how a stereotypical spoiled, entitled, over-indulged millennial making her mother's suicide 'all about her'.

Of course daddy is an upper class highly educated professor with the typical beautiful flaky artsy fartsy wife who owns a metaphysical shop.

Everyone caters to this kid and she just keeps milking it.

I stuck with it to find out how it ended but it never ended.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure how I felt about this. The writing was good, and since it took place in Toronto it was all very familiar. But I always felt uncomfortable and maybe you're supposed to. mental illness is an uncomfortable situation.
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
- Good writing, O'Connell has a very nice style.
- I very much liked the relationship between Maggie and her father - very poignant. You could feel the layers of love, regret, & misunderstanding all in one.
- Andrew's character was also very well done. Though he is not likeable by any means, he is at least understandable, and we see why Maggie becomes ambivalent towards him - a good man, but rather dull.
- However, the ending was a huge disappointment for me.
- I just felt as if it abruptly stop
Mary Billinghurst
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I met Grace O'Connell at the recent CBC Books Trivia event in Toronto. She was assigned to join our team: the bonus was that we were all given copies of her book, which she signed, of course.

I really liked a lot of things about Magnified World. Grace O'Connell sure can write. Her prose is lovely - I especially enjoyed her use of original metaphors and similes. "All this my mother told me over the years, in her roundabout way, not angry but amused, like someone savouring a punchline." ' cou
Jessica Lewis
I really like Grace's writing, specifically her attention to detail, voice and just how it feels so effortless. I definitely enjoyed reading this book because of this as well as its base in areas of Toronto I know and its focus on the mental health system and grief, however a few things snagged me. It felt like it took a while for the pace to amp up, and then once it did, it never really seemed to climax into an ending. I felt a bit disappointed by the end because I was hoping for some sort of r ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
'Magnified World' by Canadian author Grace O'Connell is an interesting read. Maggie struggles to come to terms with her Mother's suicide. Following her mother's death Maggie begins to experience blackouts, disagreements with her boyfriend Andrew, and meets Gil, a Southerner whom no one but Maggie sees.
Despite Maggie feeling increasingly out-of-control as the story progresses her character shows great development. She becomes more confident in voicing her opinions and disagreeing or confronting
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, 2012
I really don't know how I feel about this one. I really don't. Some of it I knew was going to happen about sixty pages in. A lot of it is just weird, and unanswered. It wasn't one of those books that just ends annoyingly without an actual ending, it's not that. And you do get most of the pieces. I suspect the point is more that mental illness is a bit of a grey area, and there are some unknowns, because you can't see beneath the surface in another person's mind.

It's well written. I'm not sure I'
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Grace O'Connell's Magnified World is well-written and unique. She's created a main character, Maggie, who is sweet and mixed up -- dealing with family tragedy in the midst of a surprising lack of actual family support. I liked Maggie and I enjoyed the book, though I admit to having been a bit confused by the Gil storyline - I flew through the last few chapters hoping to figure out the mystery of Gil and then was left even more confused at the end. I noticed for others, this is part of the book's ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story is about Maggie, living in Toronto Canada, and what follows her after her mother's suicide in the Don River. I've never read anything by Grace, but now I'm a fan.

Following some scary blackouts, Maggie begins her decent into madness and you can't help but tag along. I could not put this book down aside from performing the basics of life. I likened it to a song I heard for the first time but know that I would like it for good and learn the lyrics. Her intricate and detailed knowledge of
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I must admit I was disappointed by Grace O'Connell's "Magnified World." O'Connell's first novel has been pegged as a breakout book by fellow writers. However, I found it didn't live up to the hype. O'Connell is certainly a gifted writer, capturing the nuisances of everyday life. The plot, however, suffered from too many loose strings left untied at the end. As a reader, I enjoy a few unanswered questions, but I was overwhelmingly puzzled by the ending. Who exactly was Gil, the mysterious man who ...more
Graeme Lottering
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
O'Connell sets an intriguing story in the fantastic environment of a New Age oddities store. The novel is urban and modern in the truest sense. The gracefully written prose dives into the psychology of a girl coming to terms with the loss of her mother, but never veers into darkness. The book is a journey in many ways and captures the randomness of life, and the beliefs we sell to other and ourselves.

I highly recommend this book. O'Connell and talented young writers like her are reclaiming Cana
Ruth Seeley
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Everything about this novel was vivid for me - the loving descriptions of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto and of Kensington Market - highly evocative. Maggie, Gil, Andrew, Wendy, and Maggie's parents were all fully realized characters, so easy to imagine knowing.

To say that this is a novel about grief, or about mental illness, or about relationships is to box it in. It's about life, and trying to live it, and the obstacles we encounter on our way to satisfaction, if contentment and happiness a
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
A young woman grapples with her mother's suicide and starts having 'black outs' and hallucinations which can't be directly linked to her grief. The family owns a 'new age' shop and some of these mystical elements find their way into her therapy with her counselor. Gil a mysterious man who is or is not a figment of her imagination or psychoses seems a dark presence set to derail her with promises of helping her learn more about her mother and ending her blackouts. He at some point becomes her lov ...more
Rick Zwiep
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Reading a good novel in a style outside one's usual preferences is always a delight.

Grace has created a wonderful first book-length work. The plot and story line take the reader on an interesting journey as the protagonist unpacks and processes her mother's suicide. I particularly enjoyed the detailed colouring of every day events and observations woven into the writing.

Having the story set in familiar Toronto haunts and written by someone I know personally only rounded out this enjoyable read
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars
Set in Toronto, Maggie, a 23 year old young woman, tries to deal with the suicide of her mother and her realization that she never really knew her mother in any detailed way. Maggie starts to suffer blackouts and delusions and wonders whether these are signs of her own mental illness. This book is about grief, the question of identity and memory and the hope of healing. The descriptions of the city are detailed and intimate. A well written first novel for O'Connell.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life
  • How to Raise a Boyfriend: The Definitive Manual for Educating Your Man
  • Have Him at Hello: Confessions from 1,000 Guys About What Makes Them Fall in Love . . . Or Never Call Back
  • Barnacle Love
  • Monoceros
  • One Good Hustle
  • Where We Have to Go
  • The Emperor of Paris
  • Everybody Has Everything
  • Life Is About Losing Everything
  • The Weather Inside
  • Web of Angels
  • Kaleidoscope (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery, #13)
  • Luck
  • Up and Down
  • Cabbagetown
  • Every Time We Say Goodbye
  • The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
See similar books…
I’m a Toronto-based writer and editor and the author of Magnified World (Random House, 2012). I’m represented by Martha Magor Webb at McDermid & Associates and my publicist is Ruta Liormonas at McClelland & Stewart.

My work has appeared in publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, the Globe & Mail, the National Post, Quill & Quire and the Journey Prize Stories. I’ve been nomi