Monologue discussion: The Magician’s Lie, by Greer Macallister

Okay, don’t be confused (although I am fairly certain nobody is confused). This is a new category that I just decided at about last night. Basically, you can go directly to here to know more about this category. Okay, let’s go straight to business.

If you go here, you will see a set of questions that can be used on your book club gathering on The Magician’s Lie. Since I do not participate in any book club but my own, I would like to have a discussion answer some of the questions myself. Sadly, there are 25 questions, and I really don’t want to bore everyone with my answers, I’ll stop myself at the tenth question. That’s about right, I suppose. Also, this post is not going to be spoiler free, so only click through if you have ever read the book or you don’t mind spoiler.


 

The action of THE MAGICIAN’S LIE alternates between a single night in 1905, with Arden imprisoned by Officer Holt, and the story of her life that Arden is telling him, which ranges over a number of years. Did you find one storyline more intriguing than the other? Were you eager to get back to one or the other?

I’ve mentioned something along the line of this topic in my review (of which you can see here). Honestly Arden’s storyline about her past is a lot more interesting than the 1905 story, as it involves a lot of time frame, but also at the same time it was a bit too graphic and dark for me. I really can’t take much of dark subject or theme. Either way, the two storyline intertwines really well with each other that it does not really bother me to read the other to reach the other faster.


As the novel opens, Virgil Holt has just received the bad news that the doctor won’t operate on the bullet lodged near his spine. How does this affect his actions? Do you think he would have behaved differently if he were uninjured?

Obviously we can see that his obsession about capturing Arden is beyond the call for justice but more on his motive to secure his job if he succeed on capturing a murderer. But, seeing the nature of Officer Holt, I can see that he would have act the same even though he was uninjured; what’s missing would be the urgency on his part about knowing whether or not Arden is a murderer.


“The law is perfect. The men in charge of executing it are not.” Officer Holt decides early on that if Arden is innocent, it’s his responsibility to free her instead of turning her in, since the courts can’t be trusted to determine guilt or innocence. Do you believe this? Do you think he should have turned her in either way?

From the interaction between the two of them, you can tell or at least get the feeling that Officer Holt actually is a good nature and honest man, so obviously he would make good of his promise of letting Arden go if she is truly an innocent. Considering the timeframe of the story, I would be more inclined on letting Arden free, if she really is innocent, for surely she would not get the fair trial she deserves. Her sex is obviously one of the contributing factor for her not to have the fair trial, but her fame and how controversial her acts are as an illusionist would definitely do not work on her favour.


Before her mother runs away with Victor Turner, Arden lives in splendor at her grandparents’ mansion in Philadelphia, but is raised mostly by tutors and household servants. Do you think she would have been better off if her mother hadn’t taken her along to Tennessee?

Ugh! Definitely! Look, not only was she deprived of the education that she deserves and is entitled to, she was put into a life of endless agony, not to mention the physical and mental abuse by Ray. I can’t believe her mother had the nerves to drag Arden along into a spiral of nightmare that she willingly chose, and the she had the nerves to tell that Arden might be wrong when she confided in her what Ray did to Arden? Woman! You are too much!


After Ray breaks Arden’s leg, preventing her from dancing for Madama Bonfanti and having the chance to enter ballet school, she says, “There were so many what-ifs.” What do you think would have happened if he hadn’t done this?

Obviously she would not have live in a constant fear for her life, she also would not have to be constantly running. But, at the same time, she would have missed out on the chance to have met amazing person like Adelaide or the love of her life, Clyde. I guess, in a way, it’s always nice to imagine about the what-ifs of the future that was not yours when you are in your darkest moment, but once you’ve passed it, you realise that there is a trade off that is not always all bad.


Misunderstandings and difficulties arise from Arden’s differences of opinion with other characters, but she also has a great deal in common with some of the same people. Who else in the book is most like her? Her mother? Ray? Clyde? Adelaide? Who is she least like?

Arden mentioned about how similar she is to Clyde, but I don’t think so. Just because the two of them had a strong willed for future they have planned for themselves, I don’t really see them as a similar kind of person. Nor does Arden is similar to Adelaide; in a way I see Adelaide as a more softer version of the ever so resilient Arden. I guess, in very small fragments, Arden is a combination of everyone that she has ever met, just like the rest of us, we are comprised of all the people we have ever had the privilege of knowing.


When Arden confesses that Ray has hurt her, her mother tells her, “You must be mistaken…we all depend on that boy’s father, for our lives, for everything…I think you know Ray won’t be the one he’ll punish. We will all suffer instead.” Do you feel Arden’s mother bears some responsibility for what happened to Arden at Ray’s hands? Should she have spoken up, even though it could have endangered their family’s well-being?

Well d’oh! This is a no brainer! Of course Arden’s mum, in every way possible, is responsible for what had happened to Arden. Arden was taken away from the comfort of her life when she was 12 (if I’m not mistaken), she does not have a say on that matter, and now that the choice that her mother had made for her destroyed her life, of course in no way Arden should be held responsible. And, again, of course Arden’s mum should have spoken up about what Ray did to Arden. Or if she does not have the guts to do so (as obviously she had the nerves to say those things to Arden), at least come up with a way to save Arden instead of making her sustain that pain. It is her responsibility for the safety of Arden and she had, time and time again, failed to provide Arden with a sense of security.


Fleeing Tennessee for Biltmore is a huge, pivotal moment in Arden’s life. Do you think it was the right choice? Should she have stayed with her family and tried to find another way to fight Ray?

People tend to make running away seems like a cowardly act, but truth of the matter is there are some things in life that the best you could do is run away and start new somewhere else. Besides, when one decides to run away, fleeing for their own safety, it is not always an easy feat; it took everything in one self to have the guts to run and start new without any means whatsoever. In Arden’s case, knowing that she is fighting a battle with Ray without no support whatsoever from anyone else, there is no way she would have survives had she tried to fight Ray anyway.


In a key scene, the master of Biltmore tells Arden, “We all have agency,” and she later repeats it to Holt. What does this quote mean to you? Do you think it applies to your own life, and if so, how?

Honestly, I am still struggling with this part. I feel like I get the idea of what it means about everyone having an agency with them, but I can’t articulately explain how it means to me. I guess, it is trying to say that in life, everyone has a purpose and the means to achieve the said purpose if one tries to. I’m not entirely sure about this understanding, though.


Arden is surprised that Holt easily believes in magic. Did this surprise you as well? Did you believe from the beginning that the disappearance of the bruise on Arden’s throat was magical, or did you suspect some sort of trick?

I don’t know, there was something about Holt’s character that does not seem to surprise me when he admits that he believes in magic. Besides, considering his current situation, it is not surprising that he would have expect that magic is real. He was desperate enough to believe so. I don’t know what made me suspect the first time that Arden’s ability to self heal is magical, I guess it was the author’s way of telling the story. She likes to use an ominous tone and acts all mysterious, only to have suspect that something is amiss and therefor able to predict the storyline.


Well, there you have it! That’s my take on some of the questions regarding the book. Honestly there are several more interesting questions that I would love to answer but I can be sure that not only it would bore people to death, it would be something that no one would be interested to know anyway. 

 

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