Tuesday, 30 March 2010
My Thoughts: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
Angela Carter has always been this scary author for me who sat on the shelf waiting to be read. I'm not sure what it was about her that kept putting me off. I was expecting a difficult read, full of feminist angst and gothic settings. Not that these things put me off in other authors. After all I have an English degree and MA and will quite happily tackle Salman Rushdie, moderninsm, post modernism and magical realism over lunch.
I picked up Nights at the Circus with trepidation, although excited by the synopsis. Fevvers is a 6 foot plus, 14 stone woman as large as life. Big blonde hair, big breasted and hardly delicate. Yet this woman is an aerialiste, flying through the air in graceful archs above the circus audience. What this woman has that other aerilistes don't is huge wings.
Abandoned as a baby, she is adopted by an ex-prostitute turned cleaner of a brothel. She grows up in a house of prostitutes, with a small humped back. Yet as a teenager out of her back spurts a magnificent pair of wings. As she grows up she spends time at the 'freaks circus' then moves on to a regular travelling circus ending up travelling through Russia.
The story changes narrative at various points. It starts with Fevvers being interviewed by an American journalist, determined to discover whether she is the real thing or a Hoax. He is in awe of her and follows her into the circus as a clown in the hope of securing a story, the truth and the girl herself.
There's far too much in the story to even try to describe, it bursts at the seems with adventures, magical characters and moments. A great start to the Once Upon a Time IV challenge for me.