Author: Colm Tóibín
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Book Description: 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.
Colm Tóibín’s magnificent new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth 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 a stunning marriage of research and imagination, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire. The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable. As People magazine said about The Master, “It’s a delicate, mysterious process, this act of creation, fraught with psychological tension, and Tóibín captures it beautifully.”
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: This is the book I never knew I wanted to read. Colm Tóibín tells the sweeping story of author Thomas Mann. This was an author I have never even heard of, but and low and behold he was a Nobel Prize winner in literature. This is a long book, but the story is so rich and flowing and I was sad when it ended.
Thomas Mann was born to a prominent German family. As a child he wanted to be a poet and writer, but his father wanted him to be in business. When his father dies, and leaves the family in a predicament he uses this as an opportunity to live the life he dreams of.
This story starts Pre WWII and goes until his death. He is a complex man. He constantly struggles with his sexuality, but marries a wonderful woman and has 6 kids. They escape from Germany and end up in the US with the likes of Einstein.
At times this did feel more biographical than fiction, but it only helped in telling Mann’s story. He is absolutely one of the most interesting people I have read about, I actually ordered a couple of his books to read in the near future.
Again, this is a long one, but well worth the time. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.
Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.