Main | Woe Betide Me: Paint it Black by Janet Fitch »

March 06, 2007


Daniel Arenson

Hey Ilana,

Congratulations on the new review website! It looks great, and I can't wait to see more reviews.



I enjoyed your thoughtful and insightful review, and agree with your assessment of the book. However, there was something else that bothered me about this book, and about Bel Canto as well. In both books, it seemed to me that Ann Patchett came up with a premise she found interesting, and then spent the entire novel hitting you over the head with it. In Bel Canto, I felt like she was constantly throwing Stockholm Syndrome in my face -- "See that? The prisoners and their captors are befriending each other!" -- again and again, as opposed to simply allowing the story to develop and letting me reach this conclusion naturally. Similarly, in "The Magician's Assistant," it was, "Look how Sabine kept playing second fiddle onstage, but was actually a crucial part of the act." I felt like Patchett kept pointing that out to me, rather than simply allowing the story to reveal it to me as it progressed.



I agree that "The Magician's Assistant" felt repetitive at times. I didn't feel that way at all about "Bel Canto"--I just loved the book and didn't really see any flaws. Your take on it is interesting--most people who have problems with it take issue with the ending (which I don't want to spoil here, just in case).


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