Magnified World

December 1, 2015

I can honestly say I have never been suicidal and I doubt if I ever will be. This does not mean that I am not effected when those around me decide to take their own lives. When this happens, it is like a button pushes my emotions and I slide in and out of depression for quite some time.

The following is a review I did of a novel in which the protagonist is recovering from her mother’s suicide. She also inherits a New Age shop from her mother and offers tarot readings as her mother did.

The person who asked me to do the review thought, no doubt, that both these topics were something I knew about. And I did or do, I should say. Not long before I was asked to do a piece on the book, a psychic who was a colleague of mine committed suicide.

Looking, now, at the title of the book, I am struck by how apt it is. I think people kill themselves when their emotions become “magnified”. The cup, in other words, looks very empty indeed. Everything is larger than life.

Having written all of this, I think this book makes a successful attempt at helping someone touched by suicide to heal from it.

See what you think:

Book Club Buddy

July 24, 2012

Magnified World

Reviewed by Tanya Lester

Magnified World by Grace O’Connell. Random House Canada,2012. 338 pps. Cdn. $22.95

In Magnified World, Grace O’Connell’s compelling debut novel, Maggie Pierce has been symbolically dealt a very bad hand. Her mother commits suicide, her father is emotionally distant, close friends betray her, and psychiatrists prove inadequate both before and after she is institutionalized for suffering blackouts.

After her mother’s suicide, Maggie manages the Toronto New Age gift shop her mother established in the 1960s. Here she has observed her mother’s interest in the energetic power of talisman including crystals, medicinal herbs and tarot cards. Maggie takes over the in-store readings her mother once did for clients. Under direction from one of her psychiatrists, she also uses the Ryder-Waite deck of Tarot cards to overcome her sense of deep loss and make life changes.

For example, when Maggie pulls the World card, she ventures out into the world by flying to visit her maternal grandparents — the the flight and the visit personal firsts.

At dinner with her grandparents, she discovers that her grandmother also reads cards, using playing cards. When her grandmother does a reading for Maggie, the four of spades turns up, a card that also represents being out in the physical world. Maggie discusses faith with her grandmother, and what is revealed here is crucial to the novel’s conclusion.

Magnified World is a story about loss, and about how to carry on without those we love and need, whether the loss is through death or betrayal. The characters are magnetic, diverse and well developed. Both Maggie’s father and her boyfriend are academics. Her best friend works in the hospitality industry. Gil, the love connection for Maggie, is particularly larger than life. He seems to be sent from the spirit world, but his self-absorption as a would-be writer adds humour. O’Connell explores how it is possible for someone to go on living, enjoying life, even after the loss of all the important people in his or her life.

With humour and exquisite language, Magnified World, reals like one of those luscious Latin American novels, such as Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Script Writer, with magnified characters that move the story along in intricate twists and turns.

Magnified World is an effortless read that will leave readers considering the power of faith and where it originates.


Tanya Lester’s most recent book is Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader. Her reviews have been published at, and in the Malahat Review, Prairie Fire Review of Books and the Gulf Islands Driftwood.

To a tarot or tea leaf reading; psychic channeling or medium work from Tanya Lester or to learn more about them and her go to  Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google or read more of this blog at or



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