English Books Reviews

“Nights at the Circus” by Angela Carter / Review



Hello beloved Readers, today I talk about a book with a unique history, colorful and vivid, maybe a little wacky, but a small masterpiece of skill and ingenuity.

In “nights at the circus” I found myself on a warm summer evening to contemplate a wondrously blue sky dotted with a myriad of glittering stars, many small diamonds in a sea of intense darkness and magic that surrounds us in a warm embrace from Candide and soft touch… are you ready? Let’s go and read the review below! Ah! And don’t forget to write your opinion in the comments 🙂



TITLE: Nights at the circus 

AUTHOR: Angela Carter

PUBLISHER: Chatto & Windus / Penguin Books

COST & PAGES: $10,19 – 304 pages

WEBSITE: https://www.penguin.co.uk/

WHERE TO BUY IT: https://www.amazon.com/Nights-at-Circus-Angela-Carter/dp/0140077030/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499352493&sr=8-1&keywords=angela+carter+nights+at+the+circus


Sophi Fevvers—the toast of Europe’s capitals, courted by the Prince of Wales, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec—is an aerialiste extraordinaire, star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover Fevvers’s true identity: Is she part swan or all fake? Dazzled by his love for Fevvers, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser joins the circus on its tour. The journey takes him—and the reader—on an intoxicating trip through turn-of-the-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia—a tour so magical that only Angela Carter could have created it.


The book is divided into a first and a second part. Initially, we are in London, in the dressing room of the famous trapeze artist Sophie Fevvers, represented as a unique phenomenon and a shocking talent, the only woman in the world to have a pair of wings on his back – wings that help she in her exhilarating performances and in addition she wants to pretend to be a Virgin. One meter and eighty, eighty-eight pounds, platinum blonde hair and stout woman , Sophie is the main protagonist of the story, of humble origins, abandoned by unknown parents is found near a brothel and before joining the circus her life is a whirlwind of events.

 Initially she seems a perfectly normal child, then, on the border between childhood and puberty, begin to sprout a pair of wings on her shoulders and for this unusual part she is used as attraction and living statue in brothel representing first Cupid and then becoming the image of “winged victory” at the behest of the owner Ma Nelson that gave to Sophie her sword.

After the first brothel is destroyed, Fevvers finds herself in a second brothel along with other strange-looking women, but even this stage of fevvers ‘ life doesn’t last very long, so that the girl is forced to run away after being sold to a customer and she is joined to her sister. From here she joins the circus, reaching the highest glory as a trapeze artist.

This tells the same Sophie during the interview with the journalist Walser, in search of the “scoop” on the secrets most ephemeral and the infamous anecdotes about famous trapeze artist. But the girl is always busy, surrounded by staff and in particular by Lizzie – former prostitute with Sophie and adoptive mother of the young woman – follows her like a shadow, without letting Walser manages to interview her in the best way. Driven by this, and maybe even by curiosity, the journalist decide to follow fevvers and with her the whole circus, in a long journey from Europe to Asia.

And so begins the second part of the book where all the strangest things: between bombings, assaults, accidents, Walser finds himself in a completely new world, meeting the most outlandish characters and the most absurd things happen; is taken prisoner, meets murderers and inmates, all in a vortex of events while the circus gradually disintegrates at various stages of the trip and as long as Fewes and Walser don’t understand the feelings for each other.

The author Angela Carter now is considered one of the most author in Britain, she was also a journalist, feminist, author of fantastic works and erotic comedies. Her style – as well as writing – must be appreciated for what it is: direct, subtle and hidden, but with an edgy and true sarcasm . In this book can be seen in several parts the feminist side of Angela and she describe us the reality with supernatural and magical tracts, engaging and a bit chaotic, typical characteristics of her early writings.

Another feature of the story are the characters. Each of them has a role and represents something, has a past, a challenge to overcome or constant pain.
Maybe it’s the fact that Angela Carter has had to battle a bad disease when she was young and, once outside, she managed to bring depth and feelings of a person who has really suffered, leading to the hearts of readers.
She manages to express through behaviors and aspects – sometimes really ugly outwardly – the uniqueness of each character, characterizing a 360 degrees. Maybe even the symbol of redemption in life, evidence after so much suffering, sooner or later, the happiness in some way arrives.

It is difficult to judge because it is a particular style and the author herself is unique. In my opinion, simply you have to appreciate the style as it is, trying and experimenting. It is indisputable that this book is a great literary work, proof of intellect and a great challenge for a woman whose name will be remembered for centuries to come.
A woman who has had the strength and courage to express her thoughts and to fight the convictions of an era.
A woman who has struggled in her own way and contributed to changing shouting and making herself feel with writing instead of doing demonstrations or using force and violence.

This is her greatest victory.



Was born in Eastbourne, England. Among her best known works there are the short story collections “Fireworks” (1974) “The Bloody Chamber” (1979) and the novel “nights at the circus” (1984). “Wise children” is her latest book, published a year before her death.




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