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Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The author, journalist, television commentator, and longtime Washington insider reflects on the spiritual quest that has brought deeper meaning to her life—and kept her grounded within the high-powered political world of Washington, D.C.’s elite—her renowned writing career, her celebrity marriage, and her legendary role as doyenne of the capital’s social scene.

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Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by HarperOne
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Joan Lieberman
As a hopeful reader, I was disappointed in Sally Quinn's so-called spiritual journey. I forced myself to finish her narrative, hoping that she would reveal something insightful, but instead found a plethora of platitudes. Quinn begins her journey by describing the ability of her mother to put mortal hexes on others and ends with her desire to love and be loved, immersed in her own "wild and precious life" -- her narcissism masquerading as meaning.
Cathy D
Oct 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
I never heard of this person before, but had heard of her husband Ben Bradlee. That this was to be a spiritual memoir sounded promising, but in the end, it was all pablum. I found the author vacuous, narcissistic, and scarily fixated on hexing people. (Other reviewers note that she said her mother and grandmother also hexed people, who then died. True. But the author also hexed people.) Seriously? Sounds like a spoiled toddler who needs a time-out. Ugh. Don't waste your time.
Karla Eaton
This is the best bad book I have read in a long time. I have so many thoughts about it but here are the brief few:
written like a 9th grader - subject, verb, direct object
easy to dislike Quinn - incredibly narcissistic and chameleon like - from white gloved prim at job interview to gullible ingenue to hippy reveler to savvy broad who stays for the caviar and fends off the Lothario...
crazy, amazing life of privilege
sad realities which she turns to lemonade
amazing voice which made me keep turning
Benjamin Bookman
For me, this book really would better be rated in three parts. Part 1 gets a solid 4.5 stars - fun, funny, deep, well-paced, engaging - everything a good memoir should be. Part 2 gets a 3.5 - still a good read, interesting, very well written, and enjoyable, although slightly less personally my style. But part 3 was just so hard to read. Not simply the subject matter of dying, but the stage of life and the shift in focus of faith - I just had a lot of trouble relating. The writing precision and c ...more
Interesting anecdotes, but journey through spirituality seemed shallow. She tried to hard to intellectualize it. Would have preferred it as a straight biography.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Being a native Washingtonian, I suppose I felt compelled to read this mess. I had seen an interview prior to reading the book, and to watch two women gushing over a shared astrologer (and in Quinn’s case also a therapist and a psychic,) the interview was like swapping good hairdressing advice at a cocktail party. “I swear by her.” Also, the interviewer's husband had died a few years back after cheating everyone while having his rich father throw money at people to continue to indulge his son wit ...more
Anthony Faber
Somewhat interesting. She thinks she and other people have psychic powers, so there's a lot of woo here. She also trusts theists to define athiesm, which is kind of like asking Nazis about Jews. At the end, she defines (small c) christian as a good person, while not seeing that there are a lot of religions that you could do the same for. Her growing up (army brat) and young adulthood are worth reading it for and the Washington Post stuff (she worked there, then married Ben Bradlee) is also somew ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic, spirituality
Quinn can write, but this is 400 pages of BS about her "spiritual journey" which ends up leading...nowhere. Read the last chapter (epilogue) first. You'll quickly see that she is unable to verbalize having any type of faith after searching for it in every different form. She doesn't believe in God but loves to get intellectual quoting religious writers. The book talks about her voodoo beliefs and hexes, her claim to be "christian" (with a small c) saying that you don't have to believe in Christ ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quinn spends a lot of time telling us what a nice person she REALLY is after spending decades as a vituperative profiler in the Style section of the Washington Post, but also that she cast hexes on 3 people who died young, suddenly and quickly.

She talks about her mother's old plantation owning family but won't admit that they were slave holders.

She name drops shamelessly.

Nevertheless, she's had an interesting life surrounded by the famous, but it's all personal, and history be damned!

Read for fu
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is just like Sally Quinn. Intelligent, strong and at the same time a bit like the champagne she so loves to imbibe. I like her search for faith as it's I encumbered by the strictures of a particular organized religion.
Theresa Schultz
I chose to read this book after seeing Sally Quinn interviewed on TV. She certainly has led an interesting life. I found the parts about her childhood especially fascinating. In many ways she had an incredibly privileged life, which she acknowledges at one point, but I don't know if she truly realizes what a gift is it to not have to worry about money, to be free to travel extensively, attend any spiritual retreats she chooses anywhere in the world, have a summer home, vacation in Corsica, etc. ...more
I was torn between giving this book 2 and 3 stars, but decided to go with 2 because it just wasn't what it proclaimed to be. Yes, it was a memoir and yes, it touched upon Quinn's spiritual beliefs, but not in any coherent fashion. I believe she intended it to be a guide for those seeking spiritual growth and it certainly wasn't that. It was an uneven account of her life in which her spiritual "epiphanies" felt rather forced and were often anti-climactic. She would go on far too long about minuti ...more
Carole Sullivan
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had forgotten how "entitled" Sally Quinn is. A spoiled southern semi-rich girl who marries her way into the upper echelon of Washington society with Ben Bradlee. This book is about her special gift of spirituality, alas it is just silly astrology and voodoo. Her son, Quinn and all his problems are referenced and I could not help thinking that any other child with all these problems would never have made it through to adulthood. She neglects to say that having money and powerful friends may be ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finding Magic. That was... Definitely Something...

What can I say about Sally Quinn & Finding Magic? Well... I was entertained. Sally has some fascinating stories & I admit, I’d have loved to hear her go in to more depth on some of them.

As a history buff, I’ve long been familiar with Ben Bradlee, Watergate & the WaPo, but aside from a tabloid story likely read in-flight at one time or another, Sally Quinn has remained largely off my radar. I’d even forgotten she was ultimately the one who bought
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-part
On Book TV she tells about Sen John Power attempting to rape her during a cab ride. Says she could have been Anita Hill and had her life ruined if she had told police. Her brother was a religion major at University of Chicago and she interfaced with Martin Marty and Eliade. She was southern and she and her relatives would put hexes on people. Eliade said that she should stop doing that. Talks about caring for disabled son Quinn and her husband Ben Bradlee's death. Something bigger in the room th ...more
Alice  Heiserman
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the midst of writing my autobiography, and this book provided a great example of a style that I could use in my own writing; it provides interest and moves the narrative along. Quinn explores questions about religion and ways of believing. However, at times, the discussion seemed a bit naive and based on magical thinking based on the luxury of a privileged childhood. The latter part of the book, which discusses her husband, Ben Bradlee's increasing dementia and eventual death is a bit dra ...more
Monique Buchanan
There was a lot about this story I could not relate to. Sally Quinn's life is one of privilege, the daughter of an army general, the wife of a very successful editor and journalist -- she lived a financially charmed life. But I could relate to her desire to find herself --to find what brings meaning to her life: family, friends, love, vulnerable times with loved ones. Sally Quinn's writing does "sound" like the white, upper class woman she is, but she is also admirable. She's brave. She's persis ...more
Becky Morlok
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not since Katherine Graham's autobiography, Personal History have I enjoyed a memoir so much. Had I not had so much to do, I would have read Sally Quinn's Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir from cover to cover immediately. It is a page turner.

I disagree with many of the reviews on this book. It's a 10! Quinn's husband, Bill Bradlee (famous from Watergate years) was editor of The Washington Post under Publisher Katherine Graham. It was a different time for women and for journalism. Could be that
Jordan Brown
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this via audiobook and I have to admit I was enchanted. Is Sally Quinn a bit narcissistic? Yes. Does she fulfill the promise of the premise of a Spiritual Memoir? Not exactly. But she certainly lived a fascinating life. It's so interesting to hear her talk (read her write) about experiences in her life where she is clearly at moral fault and yet, she doesn't quite own up to it as much as she should. But I was very taken with her thoughts on grief. I like the way she talks about dis ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is seriously one of the worst books I have ever read. I chose it because I like the Washington Post, always admired Ben Bradlee and can't remember reading any columns by Sally Quinn but thought it would be interesting. Oh my gosh, the only "Magic" in this book is that she managed to get it published. I forced myself to read almost all of it and then returned it to the library. Some other optimistic reader had put it on reserve. If I could give it a 'minus star I would. The only "spoiler" fo ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just a normal memoir with the words transcendent, spiritual, divine, etc mixed in with self-serving stories of parties, alcohol, and sex. The author's non-existent moral compass and sense of entitlement, with first "daddy" then her husband providing for her, was difficult to digest. I have always admired Ben Bradlee's work as an editor. His choice of third wife makes me think he was more shallow than I imagined, even knowing before this about his track record with women. A most unsatisfying read ...more
Thanks to Goodreads and HarperOne for this ARC. This book took me longer than usual to read because of it's complexity of it I guess you can call it.

I've read a few of her novels and know something about her life and her husband's Ben Bradlee from me living in the D.C. area myself. I knew it was about "Faith" but didn't realize how deep this book was until I started reading. I enjoyed some parts of this book, her trips to holy lands, her life with Ben and Quinn her son who had health problems a
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really Liked this book - It’s an interesting and entertaining look at the events that shaped her faith, and/or lack there of. Sally explores the many unique experiences that shaped her spiritual evolution. Ultimately finding herself able to embrace many aspects of conventional belief systems and some very Unconventional as well.
I would recommend it if you are in the mood for something thought provoking and insightful.
Lisa Miller
The book was engaging but there was something a bit condescending in it. Or maybe it’s just hard to read a whole book about finding oneself when it seems the author spent most of her life doing as she pleased, consequences be damned. I find it appalling that if, as she claims, she believes in the power of magic, that she would repetitively put hexes on people which apparent caused their death. What does that say about your perceived status in the world?
Ann Garrett
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir by Sally Quinn explores the religious/spiritual journey of the author from childhood to the present. Sally Quinn's life has been exciting and heartbreaking. While she writes about her quest for finding magic in an interesting way, I found that when she speaks of her husbands death to be extremely poignant and vulnerable. Sally Quinn is an intelligent, deep thinking, well connected individual. I enjoyed peeking into her world.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios, chick-book
The only thing interesting about this book was her description of the many famous and infamous people she knew. Otherwise it was boring to listen to her go on and on about her incrediably spoiled life. She seems still to have almost no clue about how privileged her life was. As for "finding majic" she never got there.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I was not overwhelmed by this book but when Sally Quinn really started her religious quest - trying to understand what she believes and why - I became much more interested and the last 40% of the book just flew by. Also, her description of her experiences caring for Ben Bradlee at the end of his life was moving.
Scott Presnall
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting view of the soul and what one does with it.

Quinn, an exceptional writer, tackled a difficult subject head-on and produced this exquisite read. I have wrestled with my faith following the losses of dear family members and truly understand her efforts here. Highly recommend.
Barbara Nutting
Aug 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sorry, Sally, I found no magic in this book! Quit on page 65. But...........I googled Ben Bradley and came across the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer(sister-in-law) a much better story. Involving JFK and the CIA, a lot more interesting than searching for a non existent god!!

Let’s get real with the authors photo - photoshopped from 77 to 45, c’mon??
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
God, I’ve now read both memoirs, and I can say with confidence that Sally Quinn is absolutely insufferable. Gladly I was just skimming this awful book for any relevant info on the political culture of the 1970s, so I was able to skip over her pseudo-spiritual ramblings. She is the poster child for spoiled baby boomers who think they’re deep but are really just self-involved.
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Sally Quinn is a longtime Washington Post journalist, columnist, television commentator, Washington insider, one of the capital’s legendary social hostesses, and founder of the religious website On Faith from The Washington Post. She writes for various publications and is the author of The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining, Regrets Only, Happy Endings, and We’re Going to Make You a Star, ...more

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