“THE MAGICIAN’S ASSISTANT,” BY ANN PATCHETT

A book so beautifully written, powered and energized by a fascinating group of characters, that I truly wish it never ended, and in a sense it didn’t because after reading the final lines of the book I was left thinking about the future of all the characters, even the dead ones. In this sense it was very Hemingwayesque.

Sabine, the main character, is working as a waitress in a comedy club in Los Angeles. The magician onstage picks her to come onto the stage and assist him in an act of magic. Sabine is gorgeous and young, and at first she is too shy to go up on stage but when she finally relents she falls in love with the magician whose stage name is Parsiafal. He is handsome, caring, and sensitive and he is also gay but that does not stop them from staying and living together until the day he dies. His lover, Phan, lives with them and buys them a huge house, which they all live happily in. When Phan dies of AIDS, Parsiafal marries Sabine because he also has AIDS and wants to make sure that all that he leaves her when he dies is not contested by anyone. They are married for about a year and a half when Parsisfal dies, not from AIDS, but from a brain aneurism.

Suddenly, left alone in this big house with all these wonderful memories she finds it impossible not to live without Parsiafal. She can’t let go, and then it occurs to her that she knows very little of Parsiafal’s younger life… just tiny bits and pieces that she quickly finds out do not add up.

His so called family that he told her all died in a car accident, are mostly alive and living in Nebraska. His mother and younger sister come to visit Los Angeles when they find out he has passed away and he has left them a sizable chunk of money. Sabine meets them, and gets along so well with them that she visits them in Nebraska and it is here that she discovers the tragic history of her husband’s youth, as told by his mother, younger sister, and his twin sister Kitty.

Parsiafal is once again in her life through his mother and sisters and her love for him only grows, and the family’s love for him has always been there, even though they have never seen him since he left at eighteen. He, until the end of his life, has send his mother money but never have they communicated.

Yes, this beautiful and amazing book tells you that you can go back to your younger days, that love is eternal even at a distance, and that in the face of a twin sister that looks very much like the deceased, you can once again find the love of your life for a second time.

I Loved this book and I highly, highly recommend it.

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