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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.
©1997 Ann Patchett (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"The kindliness of The Magician's Assistant is beguiling, and Patchett is an adroit, graceful writer. . . she is especially practiced at the razzle-dazzle of odd juxtapositions." ( New York Times Book Review)
"A saga of redemption tenderly and terrifically told." ( Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Pamela Harvey on 06-10-08

Patchett Has It

This book will delight and entertain but ultimately enlighten the reader with its detailed introspection, empathy and surprising revelations. Patchett excels at what some critics call "odd pairings" but I regard this novel as a full demonstration of what this author has to say about learning from unexpected sources, and an implied caution against what I would call "contempt prior to investigation". In other words, you never know who your next teacher will be.

I have read most of Patchett's work, including her interview and her Sarah Lawrence commencement address, and she never fails to deliver in narrative skill, characterization and insight.

Can't wait for the next one!

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64 of 68 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By PlantCrone on 06-18-12

Stellar writing and narration-Pachett is a winner

Ann Pachett, an author who is new to me, has written another wonderful, introspective novel which I found so enjoyable I dedicated a couple of days to listening instead of multi-tasking, which is my usual way of listening to audio books. I've only heard 2 of her novels-this and "Bel Canto" and, IMO, both are 5 star listen...I don't give out a lot of 5 stars because I think it takes a really unique book and reader combo to rate that high of a score.

I've read some of the other reviews and, apparently, Pachett's writing does not apppeal to everyone. She is not an action oriented writer, instead she develops her characters fully and spends time weaving their inner thoughts, and dreams in the case of this story, with the plot. And, this plot is somewhat unusual in that one of the main protagonists is already dead and comes to the primary character in her dreams. It's a great interplay between living person and dream person. Additionally the personal relationships ae unusual. Still this story really pulled me in and kept me enthralled and I suspect I will be listening again to it soon.

The story line is not complex, for anyone who has lost a loved one to unexpected death the feelings of the main protagonist will be familiar. The numb and vacant and feeling unwilling to get out are typical of a woman dealing with death of her husband. Pachett delves deeply into these feelings and those of husbands family, which she had never met until after husbands death. Additionally, the marriage is truly unique and requires the listener to understand that not all relationships are the same.

I recommend the novel for those who don't need scary excitement in everything they read..this book is literature rather than a typical mass market book that gives thrills and chills. It does move slowly and is deeply involved in the thoughts and feelings of the family as they get to know each other.

I did feel the ending abrupt-but so was the ending in "Bel Canto" so that might be part of Pachetts writing style.

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35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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