The Year of Magical Thinking is a beautiful memoir by Joan Didion, who was a close friend of the author. Published by Knopf in October 2005, the novel is now considered a classic about mourning. However, the book may not be for everyone. Didion’s novel isn’t about the passing of a loved one; instead, it is about the year of mourning itself.
The Year of Magical Thinking is a novel that takes readers to the lonely frontier where Joan Didion’s husband died in mid-sentence. She finds him slouched over a dinner plate and recalls their last moments together. The novel is a reflection of Dunne’s life, which lasted for forty years. Didion uses humor to express her grief, and we find ourselves laughing out loud at the end of almost every page.
Although it is written in the white heat of 2004 and is a deeply personal memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking doesn’t function the way Darkness Visible did. The novel’s themes are baffling and sometimes perverse. The author juxtaposes death and marriage in some scenes that are piercing, but her characters are largely absent. Didion’s honesty projects a believable and honest portrayal of grief, but leaves the reader wanting more.