Picks and Pans Review: The Magician's Assistant

UPDATED 01/12/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/12/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

by Ann Patchett

Like many a woman who thought she knew her man, beautiful, 41-year-old Sabine expected no surprises from her husband, Parsifal. After all, they had worked together as magician and assistant for over 20 years before his sudden death from an aneurysm. So it comes as a terrible shock when she is contacted by their lawyer after the funeral and told that Parsifal had concocted an elaborate web of lies about his privileged upbringing in Connecticut.

In this elegant third novel, Ann Patchett, author of the critically acclaimed The Patron Saint of Liars, delicately explores the emotional quicksand Sabine faces as she travels to Alliance, Neb., to learn more about the man who was in truth the troubled son of a struggling farm-belt family. As she quizzes Parsifal's relatives for the reasons that long ago drove him away, Sabine must also confront her grief and sense of betrayal. This touching tale of loss and forgiveness challenges us to reconsider whether one can ever truly know another person. (Harcourt Brace, $23)

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