Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly's Reviews > Nights at the Circus

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
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really liked it

I was delightfully surprised that I liked this gothic, magical realism type of novel where the principal protagonist is a tall, long-haired, round-faced woman WITH WINGS. Usually, plots like this, including those in science fiction, would be too heavy a task for me to appreciate because I have this little devil inside my ear who, as I read, continuously whispers to me not true, invented, can't ever happen, just pulling your leg, you're wasting your time, better read others, etc.

Add to these is the fact that this novel has no heroes, only this winged 'aerialiste' and her coterie of equally memorable and heroic female characters. The men here are either just weak victims, freaks or ridiculous villains obviously doomed to fail.

Angela Carter, however, was a great writer. For only great writers could describe an improbable creature, a 6-foot-2 woman with wings, who can hover at short diatances, and make me believe, despite the whispering devil in my ears, that she's describing something she had actually seen and not merely conjured. Even this floating girl's name, "Fevvers," is a credible progeny of a seemingly actual event: unwanted baby left at the doorsteps, future foster mother sees it, saw it later sprouts some small feathery protuberances, feathers, fevvers.Then, of course, Carter's unbelievably fresh and unforgettable images, metaphors and similes. I recall having a brief intake of air when, describing a character, she writes something like that the character "is as sad as a continent" (or "has the sadness of a continent"?). Until then, I have never seen, or thought it possible, sadness being equated with a continent. Then I realized why not, indeed. A continent is huge and some sadness can feel like a giant smothering the life in you; or that a continent had existed, almost inert, for millions of years, forced to watch the comings and goings of centuries, seeing and remembering men and the great creatures of the world live, die and disappear forever.

There's humor (Fevvers giving a loud fart then mischievously turning her head to check the reaction of the journalist interviewing her), pathos (the unforgettable Mignon, poor girl, abused like the worst of all the downtrodden Dickens could conceive, with her box of chocolates) and rollicking adventure (they ended up in Siberia, of all places).

Very nice.
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Reading Progress

July 27, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 28, 2012 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by mark (new)

mark monday good review! Joselito, is this your first Angela Carter? she is one of my favorites.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Yes Mark, my first. I feel tempted to read another AC but there are still a lot of authors I haven't tried yet.


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