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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book, Critic’s Top Pick, and Top Ten Book of Historical Fiction

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Businessweek

From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War that is “a feat of literary sorcery in its own right” (Oprah Daily).

The Magician opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the 20th century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

In this “exquisitely sensitive” (The Wall Street Journal) novel, Tóibín has crafted “a complex but empathetic portrayal of a writer in a lifelong battle against his innermost desires, his family, and the tumultuous times they endure” (Time), and “you’ll find yourself savoring every page” (Vogue).

©2021 Colm Toibin (P)2021 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

"Cauthery's crisp, warm voice carries listeners easily through the narrative, and his thoughtful characterizations populate the conversations with individuals, adding to the pleasures of Tóibín's writing." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about The Magician

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  • Overall
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Terrific listening experience

I found the novel gripping, poignant and powerful. Mann and his family, his writing, his sexuality and their experiences as emigres during ww2 all made compelling reading. The reader, Gunnar Cauthery, really enhanced my listening experience with his beautiful diction and ability to convey character and feeling. I wolfed down all 500 pages in a few days and at the end wished for more.

22 people found this helpful

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Family and History

This novel about Thomas Mann and his family does a subtle thing. As you read about the ambitions and tensions within the large Mann family, you absorb a great deal of history. The story takes place against the backdrop of European political movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then moves to America in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The impact of history on the characters’ lives is profound. The characters – Thomas, his patient wife, his mercurial and sometimes suicidal children – are all well drawn. Toibin is a brilliant writer, and I have enjoyed many of his books. This is one of the best. The narration is excellent.

14 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Great historical fictional novel. I was engrossed in the story of the life of Thomas Mann and the narration was the best. I liked the historical facts and through the story and narration, the characters were given life.

6 people found this helpful

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Seriously fascinating

If you love literature, music and history, this is for you. Mann lead a fascinating life and Toibin does him justice.

5 people found this helpful

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Great historian and fascinating story teller

The author details of each and every caracter of “The Magician” is so profoundly well explicit that I became them as I read and listened to this book. Bravo!

2 people found this helpful

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Thomas Mann brought to life

Very believable fictional bio of Mann. It’s well balanced showing the real man with his faults and admirable qualities. The narrative often comes straight out of Mann’s mind though told in the third person. Well done and interesting. The audio version is excellent. Such excellent narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Biographical Fiction a Tad Too Exhaustive

I’ve long admired Colm Toibin’s fiction, in particular his novel about Henry James, THE MASTER. In that book he focused on a poignant period of James’ life late in his career. In this novel, for some reason, he felt obliged to track Thomas Mann’s life from birth to age eighty, just before his death. The result comes off less a well-shaped novel with penetrating examination of personality than a dutiful account reliant on the timeline of history. I had the sensation for the first few hours that the novel had yet to really start, then I realized that this is what it was.

1 person found this helpful

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Tedious to the max

If this book hadn’t been selected by my book club, I never would have finished it. I thought it would never end.

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I'd Heard of Thomas Mann but Not What He Did

This was surprisingly good. It was a very interesting life. I haven't read any of his books yet but I found this biographical historic fiction to be engrossing.

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Great Read

Great book. My only complaint is that it is written in a manner that somehow conveys to the reader it should be taken as non-fiction when it is a novel. Much better than the Master.