Other Titles

The Magician’s Beautiful Assistant

About the Book

The 13 stories in this collection are set in Toronto, Iqaluit and Western Canada, places where Rachel Wyatt has lived and worked since emigrating from England in 1957. Familiar settings, whether in city, town or country, are clearly realized and integrated to the experiences they frame.

The characters are ordinary people who encounter extraordinary situations where they learn important truths about themselves and those close to them. Some tackle a question fundamental to artistic creation, indeed to all of human endeavour, the relationship between fact and fiction, reality and appearance.

Misunderstandings, mishearings, mistaken identities occur in sometimes surreal, often farcical, situations, reflecting Wyatt’s extensive experience as playwright and skilled creator of comedy.

Dialogue and narrative are shot through with wit, irony and a quiet, gentle humour. The stories are fun and easy to read but they raise important issues and questions for further contemplation.

184 pages with cover illustration from original painting by Pat Martin Bates.

Cover and text design by Frances Hunter.

“With wit, with style, with her abundant knowledge of life and of people, Rachel Wyatt seems to have written about almost everybody we’ve ever known. Her quick eye and sharp ear miss nothing, and the enjoyment she must have felt when she was preparing this sure-footed collection spills over to the reader. Here are stories to be read purely for pleasure.”
Mavis Gallant

“In The Magician’s Beautiful Assistant Wyatt is contemporary, quirky, elliptical and antic. She is one of those rare writers–endlessly surprising–who makes you laugh and makes you think.”
P.K. Page


“Wading into this eclectic parcel of tales is like being handed a series of fun presents over a relaxed dinner, by a friend you’ve known for years and who has exquisitely educated–if sometimes off-the-wall–tastes…Wyatt is wry and ironic, funny-sad…Especially satisfying in these tales is that you never know where you’re going to end up next–or what’s going to happen. There is marvellous unpredictability.”
The Globe and Mail, 25 March, 2006

“Reading these stories is easy and consistently satisfying. True to the nature of the genre, interest never flags, and the characters come to life quickly. Some conclude with a relatively simple and amusing irony, others are a little more enigmatic. This book is extremely good reading…it gives the reader the satisfaction of having read a work of genuine literary value.”
The Vancouver Sun, 25 February, 2006

“Rachel Wyatt’s baker’s dozen of 13 tantalizing short stories are marvellous, simply marvellous. Wyatt’s a grand master at keeping her readers interested. Equally laudable is her ability to get ever so deeply into her characters, good or bad, and through them to reveal humanity at its best or worst, at its most charitable or at its most crass, even its most superficial and silly. Thanks to Hedgerow Press we have this anthology of superbly crafted stories from Rachel Wyatt’s fertile imagination. If you’re looking for a must-read book for the top of your list, this is it.”
The Pacific Rim Review of Books, Spring, 2006

About the Author

Rachel Wyatt was born in Bradford, England in 1929; she immigrated to Canada with her family in 1957. From 1986 she taught in the Writing Programme at the Banff Centre for the Arts and was Director of the Programme from 1992 to 2001. For eight years she led a series of writing workshops at Arctic College, Iqaluit, Baffin Island.

A prolific writer of radio drama (over one hundred plays produced by the BBC and CBC), she also writes for live theatre, with plays staged across Canada, in the United States and in Britain.

Wyatt has published eight novels and two previous volumes of stories: her collection The Day Marlene Dietrich Died (1996) was brought out in Italian by Voland Edizione, Rome. She is also the author of a biography of Agnes Macphail, first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons.

Rachel Wyatt is a member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

About the Cover Artist

Pat Martin Bates was born in St. John, New Brunswick in 1927 and spent her formative years in that province, where she received her early art training at Mt. Allison University. Later she continued her studies at academies in Brussels, Paris and New York. Her innovative print-making has received international recognition with many prizes and awards, and her work is represented in major galleries around the world. Her most recent exhibition at the Art Gallery of Victoria was entitled “Destinations, Navigations, Illuminations” (2005). It featured a huge collection of her light boxes, with backlit perforations revealing such wonders as night sky constellations seen from her unique perspective.

As a professor in the Visual Arts department of the University of Victoria for over three decades, she received one of the university’s prestigious awards for teaching excellence and in 1994 she was given an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from that same university.

Hedgerow Press is privileged to have for the cover of The Magician’s Beautiful Assistant a detail from Pat Martin Bates’ perforated painting Darwin Star Steer Dance Third Night.

Hedgerow Press: 10876 Madrona Dr, North Saanich BC, V8L 5N9 · Phone: 250-656-9320 · E-Mail: hedgep@telus.net