The Confabulist

Paperback | June 23, 2015

bySteven Galloway

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From the beloved, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a beautiful, suspense-filled novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a magical tale of intrigue, love and illusion.

     The Confabulist weaves together the life, loves and murder of the world's greatest magician, Harry Houdini, with the story of the man who killed him (twice): Martin Strauss, an everyday man whose fate was tied to the magician's in unforeseen ways. A cast of memorable characters spins around Houdini's celebrity-driven life, as they did in his time: from the Romanov family soon to be assassinated, to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the powerful heads of Scotland Yard, and the Spiritualists who would use whoever they could to establish their religion. A brilliant novel about fame and ambition, reality and illusion, and the ways that love, grief and imagination can alter what we perceive and believe.

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From the Publisher

From the beloved, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a beautiful, suspense-filled novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a magical tale of intrigue, love and illusion.     The Confabulist weaves together the life, loves and murder of the world's greatest magician, Harry Houdini, w...

STEVEN GALLOWAY is the author of Finnie Walsh, Ascension and The Cellist of Sarajevo. He teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and lives with his wife and 2 young daughters in Vancouver, British Columbia.

other books by Steven Galloway

The Cellist Of Sarajevo
The Cellist Of Sarajevo

Paperback|Feb 6 2009

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Finnie Walsh
Finnie Walsh

Paperback|Jan 5 2010

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Ascension
Ascension

Paperback|Mar 23 2004

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see all books by Steven Galloway
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8 × 5.18 × 0.82 inPublished:June 23, 2015Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307400867

ISBN - 13:9780307400864

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Customer Reviews of The Confabulist

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Confabulist Whether or not this book is historically accurate (which it's not) I still found it to be an entertaining read. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to others, just as long as they don't dissect and really analyze it. Harry Houdini was a fascinating person - there is no doubt about it. And his career was only a small part of it. And I think that's what I wanted more of with this book. So much of it was fabricated (such as Martin Strauss) that I wanted maybe just a bit more reality. But on the other hand had I wanted all the facts I would have just read a biography. I liked the uniqueness of this retelling and learned a few things about Houdini that I didn't know before such as his involvement with the Romanov family and his strange relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the spiritualists. But it did peak my interest enough that I gave it 4 stars because it grasped my interest and held it, I never struggled to keep going. hank you to Random House Canada via Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for an advanced copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
Date published: 2015-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page Turnor Reviews Whether or not this book is historically accurate (which it's not) I still found it to be an entertaining read. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to others, just as long as they don't dissect and really analyze it. Harry Houdini was a fascinating person - there is no doubt about it. And his career was only a small part of it. And I think that's what I wanted more of with this book. So much of it was fabricated (such as Martin Strauss) that I wanted maybe just a bit more reality. But on the other hand had I wanted all the facts I would have just read a biography. I liked the uniqueness of this retelling and learned a few things about Houdini that I didn't know before such as his involvement with the Romanov family and his strange relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the spiritualists. But it did peak my interest enough that I gave it 4 stars because it grasped my interest and held it, I never struggled to keep going.
Date published: 2014-12-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Spies, Magic, and Houdini Galloway fictionalizes the life of Houdini in this enjoyable novel about magic, death and communicating with the dead. Memorable scenes include the cameo by Arthur Conan Doyle and performing magic for Russian czars. The Confabulist and Us Conductors are novels of a similar type: fictionalized biographies of famous European performers (magic, music) who are also spies. Between the two, I prefer Us Conductors for its beautiful writing and well-executed story; to me, The Confabulist felt slow, even clunky at times, with plenty of skill but not enough art.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Greatly Imaginative Overall I found The Confabulist to be a very good read. Steven Galloway is a master at weaving past and present into a beautiful unified dance that is absolutely enchanting. I found his work to be rich in detail without going overboard, and thrillingly imaginative. The reason I am not giving this novel more stars is that I didn't quite understand the significance of the ending. It could quite possibly just be me (I'f anyone has finished it and would care to shed some insight that would be most welcome, haha). Overall a great piece magic and historical fiction. I reccomend this to anyone interested in alternate history, magicians, or the great Houdini himself.
Date published: 2014-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good follow up Well written. Good follow up from "cellist".
Date published: 2014-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Confabulidt Very enjoyable read!
Date published: 2014-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Confabulist A different look at the world of magic and the master of magic himself. What is real, what is not and what we want it to be, all facets of a life we think we know. Well written, with an unique flow of events and histories unfolding within it's pages
Date published: 2014-05-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Confabulist I just didn't like it at all. I barely was able to finish it. Don't waste your money.
Date published: 2014-05-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magical This review is based on an Advanced Reader Copy. Martin Strauss suffers from a condition called “tinnitus”. This condition blurs his memory and often it is difficult from him to distinguish real memories from those his mind fabricates. He is often confused, but one thing that is very clear in his mind is that he is the man who killed Harry Houdini – TWICE. When a young woman named Alice comes into Martin Strauss’ life claiming to be Houdini’s daughter (we learn that Houdini was a bit of a philanderer) demanding answers about her father’s life and death, Martin narrates the story of his own life as well as that of Harry Houdini. In a bar one evening the paths of their lives cross in the most sudden of manners and Martin’s life changes irrevocably. From that day on his life is linked to Houdini. The book slips back and forth between Houdini’s early 1900’s and Martin’s present day. Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo), through Martin Strauss, tells the story of Houdini from his beginnings as a Vaudeville performer through to his reign as “the most well known man in the world”. That story in itself would have been interesting enough but Mr. Galloway adds to it with so much more. He explores Houdini’s, sometimes turbulent, marriage to Bess; his close relationship with his mother; we learn the reason behind Houdini’s non-stop quest to debunk spiritualists … even taking on Margery Crandon (the Witch of Beacon Hill), and his foray into international espionage. The Confabulist is populated with many of Houdini’s contemporaries including The Romanov family, Rasputin, Arthur Conan Doyle and prominent members of the U.S. political arena of the time. Mr. Galloway weaves all of it into an exciting, globe-trotting, sometimes humorous, often suspenseful, and occasionally heartbreaking – dare I say it – magical story. Not to mention that he offers explanations and the how-to of a few of the famous magician’s tricks and escapes as well. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to friends. Mr. Galloway managed to let the main characters shine and the many, many other people populating this story to move it along nicely in the background. He also navigates smoothly between Martin Strauss’ “present day” telling of the story while spending time with Alice and the 1920’s story itself. I must admit that my knowledge of Houdini is limited to the movie starring Tony Curtis so I found the information about Houdini himself fascinating so I may need to pick up a biography if I can find a good one. And … like any good magic trick this book led up to a surprise twist at the end.
Date published: 2014-04-11

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Editorial Reviews

   • "A stunning achievement.... At once a mystery, a historical epic and a thoughtful rumination on how one might live a life with purpose." National Post    • "A tale of romance, spiritualism, international intrigue and suspense." Winnipeg Free Press    • "A haunting exploration of sorrow and identity and illusion--and a beautifully calibrated full-length magic act." The Vancouver Sun    • "A fantastical new tale that interlaces history with imagination." The Globe and Mail