#3 The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

10 01 2008

I can’t decide how I feel about Ann Patchett’s writing. I LOVED Bel Canto and The Patron Saint of Liars so much, that I bought Run in hardback as soon as it came out. Perhaps it is my lack of religion, but Run disappointed me, as did The Magician’s Assistant.
I enjoyed reading The Magician’s Assistant until I got to the ending. The more time that has passed, the more outraged I am about how everything turned out in the end.
*Spoiler starts here:
Sabine is the assistant to the magician Parsifal. Parsifal is gay and dying from AIDS. Sabine is in love with him and has been for twenty years. He is leaving her a vast amount of money and property, so he marries her so that she can avoid the inheritance tax.
When he dies, his will reveals that his family was not dead, as he claimed they were. Sabine spends some time with the family and finds out all of the dark secrets that drove Parsifal away. The family and Sabine become very close, and the end she is involved in a sexual relationship with his sister, Kitty.
I really liked the book until the end. I enjoyed learning about the relationship Sabine had with Parsifal and his partner, Phan. The time Sabine spent with Parsifal’s family was good, interesting reading.
The relationship between Kitty and Sabine doesn’t come about until the end of the book. It was unexpected and there wasn’t any foreshadowing ahead of time. Until this point, I was able to put myself into Sabine’s shoes and truly relate to her. Life isn’t that tidy. You don’t fall in love with someone and then after twenty years it was their sibling you were meant to be with, especially when that person is of a gender that you weren’t previously attracted to.
Throughout the book Sabine dreamt of Parsifal and they mentioned that Kitty and Parsifal were a lot alike in temperament and appearance. Perhaps her physical relationship with Kitty symbolized the sexual relationship she never had with the man she devoted her life too.
There are two books by Patchett left that I haven’t read, Truth and Beauty (a non-fiction book that my friend, L, raves about) and Taft. They are on my list of books to read, but after the last two disappointments, they are not a priority. I will still read them because I experienced so much joy when reading The Patron Saint of Liars and Bel Canto.



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