The Magician’s Assistant


The Magician’s Assistant  by  Ann Patchett


I thought I would continue with the theme of Magicians.  (My next theme, will be witches ; ) )

For two decades, Sabine has loved the magician Parsifal and served as his When Parsifal, a handsome and charming magician, dies suddenly, his widow Sabine — who was also his faithful assistant for twenty years — learns that the family he claimed to have lost in a tragic accident is very much alive and well. Sabine is left to unravel his secrets, and the adventure she embarks upon, from sunny Los Angeles to the bitter windswept plains of Nebraska, will work its own magic on her. Sabine’s extraordinary tale will capture the heart of its readers just as Sabine herself is captured by her quest. 1

The Magician’s Assistant plays out in a series of flash backs, regular life, and dream sequences.  Sabine is left to pick up the pieces after her friend, co-worker, and husband suddenly dies.  The relationship is a strange one. Her husband is Parsifal the Magician, and Parsifal is gay.  Sabine and Parsifal live in a home with Parsifal’s gay lover.  Both of whom leave her in a large house alone, and as Parsifal’s will is released, his secret past reveals itself.

The secret of a family still alive and well, takes Sabine on a journey to relive her husbands youth and find out why it has been buried in secrets.  His family is very welcoming and have known about Sabine for quite some time, but some of the members of the family also knew that Parsifal (or known as Guy to them) was gay.  Which left them with a lot of questions.  Sabine forms a bond with Parsifal’s family.  She sees Phan and Parsifal in dreams and is able to talk to them about things going on around her.  This is probably the most magical experiences throughout the book.  The Fetter’s, Parsifal’s family, live in Nebraska.  During Sabine’s visit it is winter, and I enjoyed a small quote about the cold weather which is relatable here.

p. 290 ” Sabine volunteered to go back to the house with Kitty to pick up some things, which meant Dot could go to work and only be a few minutes late,… This time of year everyone was late…cars didn’t start or they slid off driveways and lodged in snowbanks.  Winter was nothing but a long excuse for tardiness.”

With the support of the Fetter’s, Sabine begins to do magic tricks for them.  As she was a magician’s assistant, she never thought of herself ever being the magician.  The time away in Nebraska helps Sabine to cope with the loss of Parsifal and answer a lot of the mysteries.

I guess I get a little a head of myself when I see the word Magic.  I think that it is going to be some on going fictional wonder, like The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern.  I should have known by the real bunny on the cover that I had been tricked.  But that is exactly the type of magic that is in this book.  Illusions meant to deceive, but also to bring pleasure and delight.

The mystery of the family and the secrets behind everything was an exciting gift waiting to be unwrapped.  Unfortunately, it was just a souvenir from someone else’s vacation.  The secrets were not horribly shocking, it was simply the discovery of an unknown family, the relationships built between strangers and the growth of individuals while coping with death.  In reality you could call it magic, because in the situation, anything less than magic would seem impossible to fix the wounds and loss that they feel.  I was not happy with the ending of the novel, I had given the main character an idea of what she should do, and it took her awhile to suggest it to the others.  Perhaps I had missed something with the ending.  Maybe there was some sort of hidden message that managed to please everyone.  I was not pleased.

I have to admit that when it comes to books, a lot of the time the ending of a book can make it or break it.  If the ending had been better I would say “Yeah, it was an okay book.”  Which isn’t exactly high on the scale either.  But since I did not care for the ending, I am soured by the experience.  I didn’t really get anything from this book, and as such I don’t suggest that you read it.

1. Book Summary 


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