Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
When Parsifal, a handsome and charming magician, dies suddenly, his widow Sabine - who was also his faithful assistant for 20 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 hearts of its listeners just as Sabine is captured by her quest.

After listening to Ann Patchett's State of Wonder earlier this summer I made a mental note to come back to her previous novels. After unexpectedly finishing The Last Werewolf last weekend I needed to find my next listen on the fly and remember Ms. Patchett.

State of Wonder and The Magician's assistant are very different novels - linked only by their charm and characters who were both compelling and sympathetic. I worked my way through eleven hours of The Magician's Assistant in a little over four days -not because the novel wasn't impossible to put down, but rather that the novel was so easy to pick back up again.

Parsifal - is Sabine's lobster. The problem lies in Parsifal (Guy's) affection for men. He loves Sabine - but he's never her lover. Parsifal's sudden death from a brain aneurysm (though he's already dealing with a terminal illness) throws Sabine's entire life in the air when suddenly Parsifal's real life is uncovered. His family that died in a tragic car accident in Connecticut is suddenly very much alive and living in Nebraska (the CT family a tale of fiction). Sabine is forced to acknowledge that the man she married had secrets - but also a depth of love she never knew about.  The story of  The Magician's Assistant is one of reinvention, of faith in humanity and the real people who are so intrinsically human in their motivations. I didn't love The Magician's Assistant the way that that I loved State of Wonder - but perhaps that's more related to the subject matter (Magician/Nebraska) than the quality of the novel. It's firmly on my 'recommended' list.

Karen Ziemba's narration of Sabine's voice was superb - as narrator Ms. Ziemba became transparent to the story - that she embodied Sabine and Sabine's personal is the highest compliment I offer to the audiobooks I listen to.

The Magician's Assistant was written by Ann Patchett and narrated by Karen Ziemba. The Magican's Assistant was published by Harper Audio. The Magician's Assistant was released in hardcover and audiobook format on 5/13/2008 and has a runtime of 11 hours 9 minutes.

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