Sno Valley Center Center Library

Sno Valley Senior Center Library

The Magician's Wife

By: Brian Moore

Kirkus Reviews starred (1997) The drama of embattled faith that makes up his preoccupying theme takes one of its most unusual and interesting forms so far in this impressive new work from the Canadian author whose long career has recently peaked with such compact and well-crafted novels as No Other Life (1992) and The Statement (1996). Moore's latest is set in mid-19th century France and Algeria, its rather remarkably varied actions seen through the eyes of Emmeline Lambert, the country-bred (though in no sense ignorant) young wife of Parisian "illusionist" Henri Lambert, a magician of such renown that he and his spouse are invited to join a weeklong party at Compi├Ęgne, the rural estate of Emperor Napoleon III. Emmeline's initial reluctance to attend yields to even more troubled feelings when the casual amorality and bloodthirsty "sport" indulged in by her aristocratic fellow guests reveal their shallowness, and when she learns that Henri will be commanded to display his powers before the Arab rulers of Algeria, a territory the powerful Emperor hungrily covets. Emmeline dutifully accompanies Henri to that strange new land, and, as her mistrust of her country's, and Henri's, benevolence deepens, she simultaneously becomes drawn toward the Arabs' culture and moved by the simplicity and selflessness of their faith ("All they ask is God's help to guide them in the right path. Isn't that what all of us should ask? Emmeline's open rebellion against her husband's duplicity is perhaps the only false step in a superbly constructed story that offers both an ingeniously managed plot and thoughtfully detailed portrayals of two remote, and utterly different, civilizations, all in fewer than two hundred and fifty pages. Surrendering to the spell of Moore at the top of his game is like watching a master illusionist at work. Few of his more celebrated contemporaries come even near him as a pure storyteller. The Magician's Wife is another triumph.