The Magician’s Assistant

Ann Patchett

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction.

From the bestselling author of The Dutch House, Commonwealth and Bel Canto, Winner of The Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Pen/Faulkner Award.

A magician (with one memorable appearance on the Johnny Carson Show to his credit) takes the name Parsifal. He is gay. He has a Vietnamese lover, Phan. When Phan dies of AIDS, Parsifal marries the woman who has always adored him and who has lived with them both, his assistant Sabine.

Then Parsifal himself dies in California, suddenly and shockingly, of an aneurysm. Parsifal always said that he had no living family and that he came from wealthy upscale Connecticut stock. The reality is very different, as Sabine learns from his lawyer. He came from a poor Nebraska family and they are very much alive. Indeed his mother and sister are on their way to California to meet Sabine, the daughter- and sister-in-law they know nothing about. It is bad that her husband has died. What Sabine must now cope with is coming to terms with his horrific past and the reason he divorced himself from his family and roots.

Reviews of The Magician’s Assistant

    • ‘Original, sparkling, funny and sad – a book you read in one gulp and want to revisit immediately’ Penelope Lively, Daily Telegraph
    • ‘A delicate exploration of impossible love and new-found friendship’ Guardian
    • ‘The kindliness of The Magician’s Assistant is beguiling, and Patchett is an adroit, graceful writer’ Suzanne Berne, New York Times Book Review