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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to his very best
A Russo fan for many years i was just a little disappointed by his last "Bridge of Sighs", but "That Old Cape Magic" is a Russo masterpiece; certainly in my top three books of 2009.
Here he excels at what he does best:describing the complex humorous and at times sad inter-relationships of mature highly intelligent, well educated , but like the rest of us sometimes...
Published on 18 Dec 2009 by Alexander Bryce

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Off his game?
Like at least one other reviewer, I have been a fan of Richard Russo for years. But since Nobody's Fool, each succeeding novel has disappointed me just a little more and I'm sorry to say that That Old Cape Magic held no magic for me. Sure, there are echos of the skill & humour I have come to expect, of the beautifully crafted observation, but all the way through I was...
Published on 27 Sep 2011 by jannywanny


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to his very best, 18 Dec 2009
By 
Alexander Bryce (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
A Russo fan for many years i was just a little disappointed by his last "Bridge of Sighs", but "That Old Cape Magic" is a Russo masterpiece; certainly in my top three books of 2009.
Here he excels at what he does best:describing the complex humorous and at times sad inter-relationships of mature highly intelligent, well educated , but like the rest of us sometimes confused folk ; often getting it wrong when it is important to get it right. Any man can not help an outflow of empathy and any woman a similar outflow of sympathy for the leading man, Jack. As i read on i desperately wanted his life to turn out right. This is the brilliance of Russo. In an understated ,softly ,softly way he engrosses the reader in his characters' lives.
Again Richard Russo populates his work with accurate descriptions of fully developed believable people from the highbrow low income academic parents to the endearing ,but not very bright Marguerite [whenever she appeared i could only picture a brighter version of Rose from The Golden Girls]
Cape Cod has and continues to play a huge part in Jack's life as he returns twice in a year under very different circumstances . These two Cape visits are like bookends holding between them a damn fine story of love in several forms, failure and success.
This is a must for Russo fans and would be a fine introduction for newcomers to his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cape crisis, 6 Jun 2012
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Chris Pearson - See all my reviews
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The book's title is a twist on the old song `That Old Black Magic'. Whether the fact that Sinatra also performed it as `That Old Jack Magic' at JFK's inauguration, and the novel narrates the mid-life crisis of Jack Griffin, maybe only Russo can answer.

Cape Cod is the leitmotif in this story. It's where Griff's story starts and finishes 12 months later. Where he spent happy childhood holidays, honeymooned, sees his daughter married, experiences his mid-life crisis, and eventually scatters his parent's ashes.

Griff considers his past and what got him to where he is now. But also what changes he thinks he needs to make to enable him to recapture the excitement and optimism of his early career as a newly married screenwriter on the west coast.

Along the way he reflects on his life and explores how the relationship with parents influences much of our life and those of our families.

There are lots of comic moments in his year and much pathos here too. The characters are also are well-developed.

And whilst I found this a thought provoking, humouress and well-written book, I couldn't help feeling that it might have worked better as a short story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, love the author, 16 Nov 2010
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This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
Russo creates such believable characters, I just love reading his books and sometimes make myself wait to read his books as I know I'm going to love them. This book starts slowy and builds to hilarious set pieces and genuinely moving scenes. I could not put this book down, my only complaint would be it wasn't long enough and I do have a bit of thing about authors who create main characters who are authors (maybe it's just me?).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars russo magic, 3 Sep 2010
This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
Is Richard Russo capable of writing a book not worth reading? I doubt it. After reading such titles as "Straight Man", "Empire Falls" and "Bridge of Sighs" I am a confirmed fan of this guy. His characterisations are superb with main characters being presented in a slightly flawed state - the type of people you suspect your neighbours to be. The prose is terrific and the storeyline moves like a slow flowing river. No bayou swamps here. Just middle America - more "quiet american" than "ugly american" - presented in a highly readable package.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking For That "Happy" Place, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Nancy Martin (Pennsylvania (orig. NY)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Hardcover)
I would like to think of Russo as being one of my favorite authors but don't feel qualified to make that statement since this is only the third book I've read by him....Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs being the other two. But I will say that I've loved all three and look forward to going back and reading some of his earlier works. So when writing this review, I'm not sure if his writing style has changed or if he has, in fact, gotten better. All I know is that I think he's a great storyteller and That Old Cape Magic keeps proving that point over and over with each page you turn.

I've been so looking forward to August '09 because there were four books coming out that I've been eager to read....South of Broad by Pat Conroy, Rules of Vengeance by Christopher Reich, The White Queen by Philippa Gregory and That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. I thought I'd start out with the Russo book and right off the bat I've hit a home run. I loved it!!!!!

There are many authors out there who write stories with very little dialogue and, most times, they are not my favorite books simply because the author's storytelling capabilities aren't good enough to pull this off. In Russo's book, I didn't care if the characters said one word to each other because the story he was telling was just so interesting that I failed to notice the lack of discourse.

And this is an author who definitely loves his bridges. As I've already mentioned, I've only read three of Russo's books but each one prominently mentions a bridge. In Empire Falls, it was the Iron Bridge that separated the mansion of the Whiting's from the rest of blue collar Empire Falls. The Bridge of Sighs is an actual bridge located in Venice and it's the last thing a prisoner walks over before being imprisoned in that famous city. Is Russo trying to tell us something? Do his characters cross over into their own prison of sorts as a penance when crossing these bridges? In this book, the bridge of note is the Sagamore Bridge. It represents two weeks of happiness to Jack Griffin's family as it leads to Cape Cod....their ultimate vacation place and their reprieve from the Mid f'n West as his parents liked to call it.

Russo has so many subplots in this book, one of which is the story of a childhood summer on Cape Cod where young Jack meets young Peter Browning and has the most idyllic two weeks of his life as Peter's family is everything Jack wishes his was and Peter is the friend he always wanted. Four decades later, as a would-be novelist, it is this story (Summer of the Brownings) that Jack is destined to tell and it's something he's had in the works for years but he can never seem to finish it. It makes me wonder if this story (That Old Cape Magic) is also something that Russo has been dying to tell for years and perhaps he too has been sitting on it for a long time.

This is only one of the stories Russo tells. He goes through Jack's life with his academically snobbish parents, Jack's marriage to someone he makes unhappy, Jack's desire to be rid of his parents' influence and, most importantly, his desire for a place to scatter their ashes. This book is chock full of everything an avid reader is looking for. I can't say enough about it.

On a personal note, I really related to the main character in this book being so close in age and experiencing two weeks of bliss each year while on summer vacations with my own family. In my case, it wasn't the Cape, it was Riverhead out near the Hamptons. Taking that car ride from Brooklyn, New York and traveling on Montauk Highway until we finally passed "The Big White Duck" which was, in a sense, our Sagamore Bridge, is something I vividly remember. From that point on, my three brothers and I knew everything was going to be happy. My mother liked my Dad more during those two weeks of the year and even thought her four kids weren't too much of a burden.

Russo talks about happiness perhaps being "a place". This gave me some food for thought because I clearly could relate to that place (Riverhead) bringing me more happiness as a young child than anything I had ever known. Are we all searching for that happy place? Surely Jack was in That Old Cape Magic. You'll have to read the book to see if Jack finds his "place of happiness".
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 11 Mar 2014
By 
R. M. Holyoak "Rosie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
I have read 4 of Richard Russo's books and enjoyed them all, but this one I found rather boring and tedious.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read, 25 Mar 2013
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I came across Russo through a Kindle offer of the story Nate in Venice, which I enjoyed very much. Both stories contain just the right amount of literary reference, middle age angst and wistful remembrance of youth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it., 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
This is my second Richard Russo book and I loved it as much as the first (Empire Falls). The characters are rich and wonderful and you honestly can't believe that they are not real people living real lives somewhere. This author has an incredible imagination and writes beautifully. Terrific.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mid-life crisis, 4 Dec 2011
This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Paperback)
Previous Russo novels have taken me into a world in which the 'hero' (for want of a better word) has been fully realised in reference to his personal history and the community in which he lives. This is what I loved most about them.

This story is different - it's shorter, and all the action takes place whilst the characters are away from home. So, for me, this novel didn't create the same feeling of comfort and satisfaction that I associate with Russo's writing, and for that reason I was a little disappointed. But that doesn't mean it's a bad book - it just wasn't what I expected.

The story focusses on Jack Griffin, who is hitting a mid life crisis. His father has just died and his mother hasn't long to go. His daughter is getting married and he and his wife seem to be communicating across a chasm of misunderstanding. Sound familiar? Russo tackles this somewhat wryly, with deft smatterings of tongue in cheek humour that will raise a chuckle when you least expect to be laughing.

Jack, of course, is the modern 'everyman' and we can all relate to the absurdities of the various situations in which he finds himself. Buy this for a friend who is struggling in a similar situation and help him (or her) to see the funny side.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Russo Magic, 26 Oct 2011
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This review is from: That Old Cape Magic (Hardcover)
We used to holiday in Cape Cod when we lived as Brit expats in Montreal so I have an emotional tie to the area. And I suppose it's that emotion that falvoured my reading of yet another Russo classic. I started reading Russo with Empire Falls and moved on to Bridge of Sighs;I put him up with Updike and Roth and Tyler. These great American novelists are tremendous storytellers and that is what Russo provides here. Trmendous characters caught up with academia, love, family and friendship. Throw in some interesting thoughts and ideas about mothers and father and daughters and sons and childhood and you have some real magic down on the Cape. Please read and enjoy there are just a few writers around like Russo.
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That Old Cape Magic
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo (Paperback - 5 Aug 2010)
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