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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore

This historical novel is based on a true story, so while reading it I wondered how much was fabricated and how much was true. It begins in France during the reign of Napoleon the III. Young Emmeline Lambert, along with her husband, Henri, a world famous magician is invited to court in order that Henri might be persuaded to use his skills of illusion to help France turn the tides on their imperial reign in Africa.  They must subdue the Bedouins who revere a holy man who they believe has great supernatural powers and will lead them to victory.

If Henri can perform flawlessly and convince them that he has greater power bestowed from God, it will aid France’s conquest and prevent bloodshed. The marriage between Emmeline and Henri is a sterile one in that Henri is too engrossed in his work to pay her any attention and because Emmeline has lost several infants and husband and wife are no longer intimate to prevent any future still births.

She is innocent and sheltered so when they travel to Africa it opens up a whole new world and she is captivated by the country and its many cultures and people. She is also enamored Colonel Deniau who is overseeing the project and bent on doing whatever is necessary to make it a success.  But as Emmeline comes to respect and love the country and its people she begins to have moral misgivings about the manipulation of the people.

In a way, this is a coming of age story and also deals with the issues of political supremacy of one country or group trying to subdue another.

I always enjoy learning about history as well as a good story which raises moral awareness. This book does both.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


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