18 May 2016

A Good Read

Millroy The Magician by Paul Theroux

The story begins at the Barnstable County Fair. The narrator is Jilly Farina, a 14-year-old girl. Her mother is dead, her father is a drunk and she lives with her abusive grandmother. Jilly walks into a tent and her life is transformed. Fixing her with his hypnotic gaze, the Magician performs astonishing miracles. When she is later magicked into his trailer and Millroy promises to train her as his assistant, Jilly feels safe for the first time her short life.

But Millroy is more than a mere stage-show magician. A vegetarian and health fanatic, a possessor of healing and hypnotic powers, obsessed with nutrition and bowel movements, he is on a mission to change the eating habits of an entire nation, and through Jilly he has found the strength to preach his evangelical message. But as Millroy's messianic fervour grows so too do Jilly’s doubts about what he is up to. But Millroy knows that without Jilly there will be no magic. 

There is no doubt that this is a dark, disturbing story but I found myself mesmerised by it, it captured my curiosity from the first page. Theroux focuses on two of America’s favourite interests – food and religion. He takes pot-shots at all kinds of icons, from pompous religious types, organic food fanatics, to children's TV. However about half way through I was speed reading because there was so much repetition. I finished it because I wanted to know what was going to happen, I wasn’t disappointed, I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure what did happen, was Millroy a prophet looking for an apprentice, was he good or evil, was he human – the reference to his skin being stone cold. I don’t think he was a predator, although Jilly did say she thought he had been watching her all along. I think he needed Jilly to want him voluntarily, he needed her youth and energy to be the one to continue his magic and eventually educate the world about good healthy eating. He did also offer a better life to the sons and daughters, although they became disturbing. I would recommend it but not for the faint hearted.


  1. Sounds intriguing Polly, definitely one to look out for!

    1. It had been on our shelves for years, I was de-cluttering and decided to read it or take it to a charity shop!

  2. Hello Polly,
    thank you for the review. It sounds very interesting indeed.
    Big hug


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