I saw Ann Patchett recently at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee and was reminded how I wanted to read some of her fiction again.
This is the story of Sabine, an assistant to a magician, Parsifal, who she met as a young waitress in her twenties and stayed with until his death. He was gay and her and his partner lived together in the house of the partner. When the story opens, they've both died and she discovers Parsifal had a family she never told him about. She meets them and goes to visit them to learn who this man she loved for so many years really was.
I loved the relationships of her, the mother and the sisters of Parsifal. Sabine and Parsifal lived in LA and his family was in a small Nebraska town. The contrast of cultures and their different yet shared experience of the person they knew and loved was tender and moving. I particularly liked his mother, Dot Fetters. Her matter-of-fact outlook on life despite all that had been dumped on her was comforting in the same way it was to Sabine.
There is a comparison of the sophisticated, world-travelling glamour girl to the simple life of the country that made me wonder how much Patchett researched the Nebraska locale; it seems somewhat cliche, the way a city person would imagine it.
It's a portrayal of people being kind to each other, overlooking their quirks and trials and tribulations, accepting them as they are and loving them all the same. Recommended read.
Published: 1997 Read: November 2014 Genre: Fiction