Nights at the Circus

I’ve just finished re-reading Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus.  I’d forgotten just what a great writer she was and how much I had enjoyed reading the book first time round. 

The story – if you’re not familiar with it – revolves around Fevvers, a winged circus performer, as the 19th turns into the 20th Century.  For the first three quarters of the book you don’t quite know whether the wings are real or just a story.  You hear how she grows up, in a brothel, becomes part of a freak show and eventually a performer in the circus.

The circus heads to Russia where Carter draws another set of characters; Boffo the clown, the Professor (a monkey who negotiates his own contracts), the Princess (a seemly mute tiger trainer) amongst others.  And from St Petersberg the troop set off across Siberia to go to perform for the Emperor of Japan.  However, they never arrive as their train is blown up by bandits who think that if only the Tsar were to know of their story they would be able to return to their homes as free men.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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2 Responses to Nights at the Circus

  1. carl kisicki says:

    Speaking of circuses Andrew, the candidates have been selected for the Whitefoot by-election to be held on September 18th.
    Will the new Lib Democrat candidate Pete Pattison be as colourful and entertaining as Sera Kenman, has he purchased an a-z to find his way around?
    Will he singlehandedly save the Excalibur prefabs from demolition at the hands of the Mayor!

  2. Transpontine says:

    One of my favourites too, went to see a play of it in Hammersmith but thought it was poor – some things are best left to the imagination.

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