Rabbits from Hats
I’ve just finished The Magician’s Assistant, by Ann Patchett. I have had a number of misconceptions about Ann over the years, the main one being that I thought she was Terry Pratchett’s sister. She’s not. I have also been labouring under the misapprehension that she’s some sort of chick lit lightweight. That’s me being snobby, and it’s not true.
The Magician’s Assistant is a story about Sabine, a woman in love with a magician who is gay. Its funny and sad, and so finely drawn you feel the characters breathing over your shoulder as you read. Much like the plot, you’re never quite sure if it’s a trick of the light, or whether you’re in the presence of real magic.
I particularly enjoyed the characterisation.The people are real, flawed, but innately likeable. You root for the ones that have made really terrible choices as much you do the heroes. And there is a wonderful sense of place, particularly in the first half of the book. It’s pretty much a love letter to Los Angeles and the people who end up there for whatever reason.
It’s a gentle book, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have some serious things to say.It speaks of grief and loss, and poignance for youth delicately but still packing a punch or two when it needs to.
Bel Canto is one of those books I’ve always shied away from because I have a contrary nature and tend to be put off things people reccomend to me, but having read this I’ll definitely give it another try.
And I’ll also try to update this slightly more frequently- I really am sorry!