Synopses & Reviews
"A secretive magicians death becomes the catalyst for his partners journey self-discovery in this “enchanting” book (San Francisco Chronicle) “that is something of a magic trick in itself” (Newsweek).
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 journey she takes, from sunny Los Angeles to the bitter windswept plains of Nebraska, will work its own magic on her. Sabine's extraordinary tale, “with its big dreams, vast spaces, and disparate realities lying side by side” captures the hearts of its readers and “proves to be the perfect place for miraculous transformations” (The New Yorker
"Masterful in evoking everything from the good life in L.A. to the bleaker one on the Great Plains...: a saga of redemption tenderly and terrifically told." Kirkus Reviews
"This engaging, supple plot is played out against a backdrop of dreams, flashbacks, and long, elliptical conversations....With her quiet playfulness, Sabine's touch is as light and sure as that of the author who created her." Kate Tuttle, Boston Book Review
"[T]he kindliness of The Magician's Assistant is beguiling, and Patchett is an adroit, graceful writer who knows enough tricks to keep her story entertaining....The real appeal...lies in the small, accumulating ways in which Sabine and the Fetters family assist one another out of isolation and sorrow. By the end, they have all been somewhat transformed yes, by the magic of love." Suzanne Berne, New York Times Book Review
"The [characters] have a wonderfulness that collectively can be unnerving. But mostly they ARE wonderful, as well as individual, smart and battling hard. There is something of allegory in Patchett's novel. There are times when its insistent current toward redemption risks flooding the life along the way, and there is a suggestion of the author's hand hovering at the sluice gate. Rarely does it do more than hover, though: rarely does the flood level do more than lap at the ingenious life and liveliness that Patchett has devised." Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Magicians and their assistants may be masters of misdirection and slight of hand, but novelist Ann Patchett is the real thing. Patchett does have a trick or two up her sleeve... her controlled, evocative prose for one; the uncanny way she makes the most surprising twists seem absolutely inevitable; not to mention the wisdom and tenderness with which she portrays the illusions that keep lovers and families together and those that rend them apart." Alix Madrigal, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"Patchett's third and finest novel....Patchett's lush and suspenseful story is also a portrait of America..." New Yorker
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.
A secretive magicians death becomes the catalyst for his partners journey of self-discovery in this “enchanting” book (San Francisco Chronicle) “that is something of a magic trick in itself-a 1990s love story with the grace and charm of a nineteenth-century novel” (Newsweek).
A reissue of Ann Patchett's third novel, about a magician who dies leaving his wife to discover a lifetime of secrets he kept from her
Sabine-- twenty years a magician's assistant to her handsome, charming husband-- is suddenly a widow. In the wake of his death, she finds he has left a final trick; a false identity and a family allegedly lost in a tragic accident but now revealed as very much alive and well. Named as heirs in his will, they enter Sabine's life and set her on an adventure of unraveling his secrets, from sunny Los Angeles to the windswept plains of Nebraska, that will work its own sort of magic on her.
About the Author
Ann Patchett is the author of two previous novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. She has written for many publications, including Elle, GQ, The Paris Review, and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.