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4.0 out of 5 stars A sad story
I have say that I was unsure as to whether I would enjoy this book - I didn't know if I would find the mid-19th century setting a challenge and nor was I sure about a storyline with illusion at its' centre. However, after a slow start, I soon found myself lost in the story and caught up in the moral complexities of the French in their colonisation of northern Africa...
Published on 19 Dec. 2010 by Scholastica

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Magician's Wife
I have never read a book, and I have read quite a few books, where the saying “never judge a book by its cover” seemed more appropriate. From the cover of this book I thought this would be quite dark, possibly about murder or intrigue, but I certainly didn’t think it would be a Philippa Gregory type historical novel. The Magician’s Wife follows...
Published 1 month ago by Alexa


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3.0 out of 5 stars The Magician's Wife, 17 Mar. 2015
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Alexa (East Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magician's Wife: Reissued (Paperback)
I have never read a book, and I have read quite a few books, where the saying “never judge a book by its cover” seemed more appropriate. From the cover of this book I thought this would be quite dark, possibly about murder or intrigue, but I certainly didn’t think it would be a Philippa Gregory type historical novel. The Magician’s Wife follows Emmeline and her husband Henri as they are summoned by Napoleon III and subsequently sent to Algeria to help the French conquest of the country.

The story is based loosely on the life of real life French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin who, in 1856, was sent to Algeria to show the leaders of the country how impressive his magic tricks were with the aim of stopping them rebelling. The Magician’s Wife does follow this story though, I imagine, with a lot of liberties. The first 100 or so pages are set in France and follow Emmeline, the narrator of the story, and Henri as they travel to the French court and get given their assignment. While interesting this part of the story was a little slow as it felt more like it was just setting the scene. After this point, after travelling to Algeria , the story picked up as it followed the couple through the desert and documented their travel and Henri’s magic shows.

There was only really one major downside to the book and it was that it ended so abruptly. The whole story was wrapped up and finished within a few pages of the climax which left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. I don’t like books that drag on for ages after they should have ended but I do like all the loose ends to be tied up nicely, and in this case it felt like the author simply got bored and tied them in the simplest way possible, even when it didn’t really fit with the rest of the plot.

As a whole this was an enjoyable read but wasn't particularly special and isn't one of those books that will stay with you after you've read it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow at first but worth the read., 5 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magician's Wife (Paperback)
The storyline focuses around the wife of Europe's leading magician who is asked by Emperor Napoleon III to show his magical skills to an Algerian holy man who is considering an announcement proclaiming that he is the Mahdi. Brian Moore sets out to show the spiritual emptiness of European colonialism and not withstanding the simple ideas and language used, he manages to get his point across fairly well towards the end of the book. Algeria is beautifully portrayed, as is the 'magician's castle' in France. Worth the read, although a work of literary beauty should not be expected.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sad story, 19 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Magician's Wife (Paperback)
I have say that I was unsure as to whether I would enjoy this book - I didn't know if I would find the mid-19th century setting a challenge and nor was I sure about a storyline with illusion at its' centre. However, after a slow start, I soon found myself lost in the story and caught up in the moral complexities of the French in their colonisation of northern Africa. Ultimately, it's a sad story, exposing the emptiness of doing things for the wrong reasons, but this is no reason not to read it. This would make a good book club read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting novel !, 21 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magician's Wife (Paperback)
This is a very good account of France under Napoleon III and its bourgeois society. It lacks action and I certainly did not find it as entertaining as "Lies of Silence". The characters and the action in general are quite predictable and the description of Algeria is what interested me most.
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The Magician's Wife: Reissued
The Magician's Wife: Reissued by Brian Moore (Paperback - 2 Feb. 2012)
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