BOOK REVIEW: The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

The Magician's Assistant by Ann PatchettThe Magician’s Assistant
By Ann Patchett
Completed July 25, 2011

For most of Sabine’s adult life, she was in love with her employer and best friend, Parsifal. They travelled together as a magic act and later as antiques experts. They shared an uncommon bond of friendship. Sabine knew her love would always be unrequited. Why? Because Parsifal was gay – and his true love was a man named Phan.

Sadly, both Phan and Parsifal had AIDS, and as Sabine prepared to say good-bye to them both, Parsifal does something remarkable: he married Sabine, ensuring her financial freedom for the rest of her life. Parsifal, however, had secrets too, namely a mom and two sisters in Nebraska who had not seen him in more than 20 years. When they learned about his death, Parsifal’s mom and sister came to Los Angeles to meet Sabine. Once united, Sabine and Parsifal’s family pieced together his mysterious life.

The Magician’s Assistant was a tale like none other. Indeed, a woman married to a gay man near the end of his life was an unusual story development.  However, Ann Patchett had more tricks up her sleeve.  Incredibly loving and flawed, Parsifal’s family showed Sabine what life was like for young Parsifal (then called Guy), uncovering more secrets. Together, they mourn his death and help heal old wounds.

Wonderfully told, The Magician’s Assistant was a moving story of love, friendship, family ties and estranged relationships. Each of the story’s twists and turns were unpredictable, and while Patchett left the ending open-ended, I was pleased with the strength of friendship among this group of women. Their mutual love for Parsifal brought them together, but their love for each other made them even closer. The Magician’s Assistant was a beautiful book, and once again, Patchett swept me away with her magical storytelling. (  )


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Terri
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 01:56:39

    So glad you loved this book – I did too. I think Patchett is remarkable.


  2. Ally
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 02:02:34

    This is a book I would LOVE to read 🙂


  3. nomadreader
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 02:26:23

    Another Ann Patchett added to my must-read list (well, all of her novels are on it, I just keep changing my mind about which one to dive into next. I’m glad you loved this one!


    • mrstreme
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 02:29:02

      I know what you mean. I have read three of her books now (Bel Canto, State of Wonder and this one) – so at least I have less to shuffle around! =)


  4. Athira
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 03:58:25

    I love Ann Patchett’s books, but I haven’t read this one. I can see some of Ann Patchett’s signature elements here. I can’t wait to read this.


  5. BermudaOnion
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 04:06:40

    I experienced Patchett’s work for the first time last month and did enjoy the beauty of her writing. I’ll have to check this one out.


  6. Vasilly
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 08:29:35

    This sounds like an amazing book! I’m adding it to my tbr list.


  7. cscott02
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 09:28:22

    Another one I’ve got to read! I just finished my review of Bel Canto and I read State of Wonder a couple weeks ago; both were great.


  8. Megan
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 09:14:24

    Bel Canto’s the one that gets all the hype, but I’m sure I loved this one more. Great review!


  9. Trackback: My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « The Magic Lasso

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