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Nights At The Circus [Kindle Edition]

Angela Carter
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description


Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe's capitals, part swan...or all fake?

Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney's circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St Petersburg and Siberia.

Product Description


'A remarkable book by any standards' Guardian 'Angela Carter has influenced a whole generation of fellow writers towards dream worlds of baroque splendour, fairy tale horror, and visions of the alienated wreckage of a future world. In Nights at the Circus she has invented a new, raunchy, raucous, Cockney voice for her heroine Fevvers, taking us back into a rich, turn of the 19th century world, which reeks of human and animal variety' The Times."

Book Description

'Raunchy, raucous...a rich, turn of the 19th century world, which reeks of human and animal variety' The Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 507 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0140077030
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (31 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009IJZ9EQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,778 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Angela Carter was born in 1940. She lived in Japan, the United States and Australia. Her first novel, Shadow Dance, was published in 1965. Her next book, The Magic Toyshop, won the John Llewllyn Rhys Prize and the next, Several Perceptions, the Somerset Maugham Award. She died in February 1992.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern fairy tale 19 Jun. 2003
By Fuchsia
I was sceptical when my friends nagged me into reading Angela Carter. If anything, I was critical as I began reading it, but was soon won over by the sheer bizarre nature of Fevver's tale. Despite myself, I was drawn into this story. The characters, places and storyline are unforgettable, the tale a vivid, unbelievable romp with the circus from London to Siberia.
The only downpoint to this book, I would say, is that the narrative of the first part is a bit rambling and slow paced compared to the rest of the story, but this does nothing to detract from the overall wonder and brilliance of this novel.
Don't buy this book if you're looking for a gritty, realistic story, because "Nights at the Circus" is, if anything, fantasy. However, if you want an involving, amusing and enchanting modern fairy tale, this book is an absolute must.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fascination of a swan 7 Jan. 2010
A fabulous tale in all senses of the word. Written as a play in three acts: 1. American journalist Jack Walser interviews famous arialiste (arieliste?) Fevvers, part woman part swan, for his series "Great Humbugs of the World" - but, anticipating modern PR, the celebrity is very much in control; 2. Walser enlists in the circus, as a clown, to follow Fevvers to Petersburg - where his cover is blown and all begins to disintegrate; 3. The remnants of the circus press on via the trans-Siberian express to perform for the emperor in Japan, and sublime chaos is reached - to be put back together in the wilderness.

Angela Carter paints visual pictures with words - most memorably for me the Siberian tigers laying on the roof of the house, seduced by the music inside, as two very different parties converge from stage left and right; and the clowns' Christmas dinner arranged as Da Vinci's Last Supper, before Walser (the cock, his slung arm flapping) breaks the cover of his serving dish. She also builds comic momentum that had me laughing out loud (on my train through the snow), which I have to admit usually involved the clowns. Cock-a-doodle-do!

However, the switch to Fevvers in the first person, as she begins to doubt her own existence, and the sympathetic and erudite treatment of the Siberian shaman amazed me. Fevvers becomes both a shamanic dream and undergoes her own shamanic transformation, at the edge of civilisation and on the cusp of the 20th century - a transformation all of the remaining members of the circus experience in their own ways. She becomes the allegory for the liberated 'new woman' as the 20th century spins into life.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Men! If only women could live without us... 13 Jun. 2012
Angela Carter is one of those writers who have been on the periphery of my personal reading radar for a while. Feminist friends revere her work. She's one of the big literary names who deal in fairy tales. And she's been massively influential.

Nights at the Circus is a novel about Fevvers - a cockney pronunciation of Feathers. She's a miraculous woman who has wings and can fly, and she's found a career as an acrobat. The book is divided into three parts. In part one, she tells her story to an American journalist, backstage in a London theatre, over the course of a night. The journalist wants nothing more than to prove her fake and burst the bubble of her fame. In part two, she starts on a world tour with a circus, and the journalist, seduced by the mystical attraction of circus life, follows along, signing up as clown and living incognito in the circus. Part three, ... well, I'm not going to spoil the story.

The novel is written in quite dense prose. It is not a quick read, and requires some concentration. The story moves in unexpected ways, and every aspect of the novel becomes more and more surreal and dream-like as it progresses. Starting with a relatively straightforward biographical narrative, the growing sense of unease is infused into the story gently: something odd is happening with the passage of time. There are unspoken things, sudden changes in the flow of conversation, meaningful glances get exchanged.

In part two, the surreal / fantastical elements become more prevalent. Animals are different. Clowns have their own mythos. Some magic appears to occur (beyond a winged, flying woman). And part three - well, all bets are off in part three, and we're deep into surreal, dream like, trance like crazy.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magical set of characters 28 July 2004
Richly written, the joy of this book is in the characters that Carter describes (you get the feeling she enjoyed writing it just as much): from the winged trapeze artist & her maternal assistant to the performing apes and their Professor, this is a book that surprises throughout with its imagination and detail.
This is all done at the expense of any particularly tight plot - we begin with an 80-page life story as told to journalist John Walser, but it then becomes more picaresque as we follow the circus and get to know the stories of its staff, with strong female characters particularly making their presence felt. The journey takes us an unusual route to an unusual end.
This is a world you can escape into - beautifully realised in the best tradition of magic realism.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I brought this book after reading 'The Bloody Chamber'. I enjoyed the themes and the way it was written so much that I wanted to read more Carter. Her world she writes is just captivating. When it comes to books, normally I prefer ones that aren't so heavy with their description. I like a story and find some books go OTT about, for example, the sound of the wind, the texture and contrast of the leafs, and sometimes it is a distraction. Carter IS an author who uses lots of description, but she does it in such a talented way. It's not essential to understanding the story, but if you do read into the symbolism of the description, the story she is telling has such philosophical depth.

I must say I was not at all disappointed. The book is split into three places; London, Russia, Syberia. I must confess to enjoying London and Russia more than the latter location. Not that there was anything wrong with it, it just was a bit demanding to read. It was very philosophical and very symbolic. London and Russia had more tales and stories, which is something I look for in a book, its a personal taste, so of course, if symbolism and description is what you relish then the latter third will probably be your favorite.

It was one of them that when you are not reading it, you are thinking about it. I have a feeling some of the references, the stories and the imagery used in this book will stay with me, and stay in my mind. I will read it again, I'm sure of that.

Finally, I would recommend to absolutely everyone and anyone. She is easy to read, but that doesn't make her stories simple. She really is a special author. I only wish she were still alive so there would be more wonderful, captivating books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved
A really intriguing book, loved it
Published 6 days ago by Judith Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Found it difficult to get into but well worth the read in the end
Published 1 month ago by J. Pettifer
1.0 out of 5 stars cant see why this book is so acclaimed
most peculiar book don't know why it is so acclaimed. afraid had to give up after reading a reasonable portion of it, couldn't make head nor tail of it.
Published 1 month ago by ms jay
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful book, very absorbing
This is a wonderful book, very absorbing, I read it years ago so this one is for an ole pal. It takes the mind off all ones worries!
Published 2 months ago by Anita R Kilpatrick
2.0 out of 5 stars I have always enjoyed circus stories (and I LOVED The Night Circus by...
This was the first Angela Carter book that I have read and I didn’t know anything about the author before I saw this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. S. Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book I bought as a present for my partner, great read!
Published 3 months ago by Robert Twentyman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good condition. Very glad. Thanks.
Published 5 months ago by tara lee
2.0 out of 5 stars bought this following BBC's program celebrities talk about favourite...
bought this following BBC's program celebrities talk about favourite books. Despite an enthusiastic plug, I found this really hard going. Read more
Published 6 months ago by kaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Good service
Didn't like this book but arrived on time
Published 6 months ago by Geordie Booker
2.0 out of 5 stars meh
I can't really rate this since I only got part way in ( maybe it gets better - I know a lot of people who really like it) but I found it quite dull. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Pen Name
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