Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, September 17, 2022

“The Magician’s Assistant” by Ann Patchett

I'm working on the next inductee to my "I've Read All Her Books" group. This one takes a little more effort than the last one, considering Patchett has had more than three times the number of Fuller's books published. But, nine down and four to go! And here's a little sampling of how this one went: 

P38… this hasn’t grabbed me yet. But it’s Ann Patchett. I’ll keep going. 

P299… how did I get so close to the end?

P357… The end? How could that be the end?? I hated the end. What a letdown. How anticlimactic. 

Overall (like probably from pages 39 to 356) it was good. It was Ann Patchett and her writing is always brilliant. I can even forgive the ending. But this won’t rank among my favorites of hers. Although it’s possible it will surprise me and stick with me. Those were some pretty vivid characters. 

This is the story of Sabine Parsifal, who has spent most of her adult life in unrequited love with the magician she assists. She is actually married to the magician, and he does love her in his own way, but for him the marriage is really only a way to make sure she can inherit his wealth after he dies, since he has no other family. (Although, as very few magicians can actually make a living by performing, Parsifal and his wife are financially supported by the two rug stores he owns and runs.) The story takes place very soon after Parsifal dies of an aneurysm (though if the aneurysm hadn't gotten him, the AIDS would have). And very soon after that, Sabine finds out that Parsifal's family didn't actually die in a car wreck decades ago. They're alive and well in Nebraska. (Well, most of them are, anyway.) What follows is an evocative account of the relationships formed between Sabine and her newly-discovered family members. 

It seems like I ought to have a paragraph, or at least a sentence, to pithily wrap up this post, but I can't think of anything else to say, and really--how fitting if this review feels unfinished as it ends. Now you know how I feel. 

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