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The Secret of Magic
by Deborah Johnson

Published: 2014-01-21
Hardcover : 416 pages
14 members reading this now
5 clubs reading this now
1 member has read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members
In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.
  Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. ...
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Introduction

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

 
Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.
 
As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.
 

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

OCTOBER 1945

Gotcha!

Joe Howard Wilson jerked and his hands went straight to his face, and then to his body, for his gun. Groping. Feeling. Saying his prayers. Checking to make sure that he was awake and what had happened in that forest in Italy, all the killing, was over. Checking to make sure it wasn’t happening now. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Why did Thurgood Marshall first hire Regina as a lawyer at the Legal Defense Fund? What does this say about his attitude toward equal rights in general and toward women in particular?

2. What were Joe Howard Wilson’s feelings toward the Calhoun family? What were his feelings toward his father, Willie Willie?

3. At one point, Mary Pickett mentions rumors of a romance between Willie Willie and Peach. Why did they remain friends but never marry after Luther was “disappeared”?

4. Regina pays a lot of attention to her clothes. Why does the author include this? What did you make of Mary Pickett’s changing her sweater once she sees Regina wearing the same one?

5. Do you think Mary Pickett truly didn’t notice that the teacup she gave Regina was chipped? Was it an honest mistake, or was she making a point?

6. Regina comes to feel that in many ways the South in 1946 is more integrated than the North. In what ways does she feel this? Do you agree with her?

7. Is Tom Raspberry an Uncle Tom, or is he a man who has realistically made his way forward in a world where the cards are stacked against him?

8. Why did Wynne Blodgett kill Joe Howard Wilson, and why did he think he could get away with it? Could this kind of thing still happen today?

9. Who “owned” the stories in M. P. Calhoun’s book The Secret of Magic? Was it Mary Pickett herself, or Willie Willie? Did Mary Pickett feel morally correct in publishing The Secret of Magic, or was she always at least a little ambivalent about what she had done? Why was she finally able to restart her writing career?

10. How is Mary Pickett Calhoun the stereotypical ideal of a southern white woman? How is she different from that? Can you draw comparisons to other figures in literature, such as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind?

11. Who was the most courageous character in the book for you, and why? How do you measure courage?

Suggested by Members

For those who find the pace slow, why do you think that is so?
Do readers see similarities to To Kill A Mockingbird?
by rkarpinecz (see profile) 01/20/15

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Slow as molasses ..."by rkarpinecz (see profile) 01/20/15

Slow as molasses easily describes the first 100 pages of The Secret of Magic. Finally, it picks up at midpoint and moves quickly to it's conclusion. A group member suggested the slow pace at the front... (read more)

 
  "The Secret of Magic"by [email protected] (see profile) 05/09/16

Being a Northerner, I learned a lot about Southern behavioral nuance, love of storytelling by many Southerners, complexity of the racial inequality pre and post WWII, and how far we've come.... (read more)

 
  "The Secret of Magic"by Silversolara (see profile) 01/13/15


A year-old murder, a book paralleling events and characters, and the South in the 1940's after WWII.

The charm of the South as well as its deep-seated prejudices comes forth in THE SECR


... (read more)

 
by vstevens (see profile) 04/30/14

 
  "THE SECRET OF MAGIC by Deborah Johnson"by [email protected] (see profile) 02/22/14

This is a wonderful book! The book jacket does not do it justice. I almost didn’t buy it. Then I started reading and couldn’t put it down. The writing reminds me of THE HELP or TO KIL... (read more)

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