The Magician’s Assistant Review
By Alexis Mercer
Earlier this summer I posted a review of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, with the statement that she had won my heart and the title of Favorite Author. And after a not so great read with Phil Philips’s Mona Lisa’s Secret, I needed a guaranteed good read, so I turned back to Patchett.
The Magician’s Assistant is true magic, but in a take-you-places-make-you-think-and-appreciate-life kind of way rather than pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat kind of way.
Sabine, the main character and voice in the story, loses her husband Parsifal to a brain aneurism. He was a magician and she his assistant for 20 years. After his sudden death, Sabine learns of a family in Nebraska he claimed long ago died. In her quest to learn more about the man she loved and his true past, and to begin to overcome her debilitating grief, Sabine travels to the snow covered fields of Nebraska, a world away from her Los Angeles life. It is here she learns not only about her deceased husband’s unshared past, but also about herself.
The plot line was intriguing and pulled me in right away. But it was the characterization and emotional development within the story that truly left an impression on me.
I don’t read Ann Patchett’s novels because I see myself in her characters; quite the opposite in fact. I find beauty in her ability to remind me that each of us is so vastly unique, but that we all share emotions and parts of ourselves that are often found deep inside our core.
The Magician’s Assistant is another of Patchett’s gifts to the world displaying that even in total desperation, we can all find a connection to each other. She has the ability to demonstrate the interweaving similarities of humanity.
When I was reading this book, I was hearing in my head the infamous poem by Dr. Maya Angelou – The Human Family.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
This is not a familiar plot line or anything like a book I have read in the past. Some parts I would even say are slightly strange in how unfamiliar they are to my reality. But these are the things that made it most endearing.
I highly recommend this book. You’ll feel a wide range of emotions while reading it. Sadness, joy, fear, contentment, and suspense to name a few. It just may be the perfect book to enjoy as we are moving away from “summer beach reads” to the beauty and magic of fall.
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