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The Magic Toyshop (VMC) [Paperback]

Angela Carter , Carmen Callil
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

31 Dec 1981 VMC (Book 396)

This crazy world whirled around her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds are mechanical and the few human figures went masked... She was in the night once again, and the doll was herself.'

Melanie walks in the midnight garden, wearing her mother's wedding dress; naked she climbs the apple tree in the black of the moon. Omens of disaster, swiftly following, transport Melanie from rural comfort to London, to the Magic Toyshop.

To the red-haired, dancing Finn, the gentle Francie, dumb Aunt Margaret and Uncle Phillip. Francie plays curious night music, Finn kisses fifteen-year-old Melanie in the mysterious ruins of the pleasure gardens. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip: Uncle Philip, with blank eyes the colour of wet newspaper, making puppets the size of men, and clockwork roses. He loves his magic puppets, but hates the love of man for woman, boy for girl, brother for sister...


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The Magic Toyshop (VMC) + The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (31 Dec 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860681904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860681908
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

Review

'The boldest of English women writers' Lorna Sage 'Her writing is pyrotechnic -- fuelled with ideas, packed with images and spangling the night with her starry language' Observer

Book Description

In this, her second novel, (awarded the 1967 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize) Angela Carter's brilliant imagination and starting intensity of style explore and extend the nature and boundaries of love.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The summer she was fifteen, Melanie discovered she was made of flesh and blood. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magic Novel 1 Nov 2008
By G. Lyon
Format:Paperback
...and a novel that will win you over if you have a heart.
Carter uses 'magic realism' to great effect and this novel is heavy with it. Things are not meant to be trully realistic, and this is part its charm. It is weird and wonderful, yet has dark undertones swelling beneath that surface in the 'play' performed towards the end of the novel in which the characters ealationships are trully revealed. That everyone in the novel is supressed, repressed, and tortured yet hide it and that 'truth' is revealed in a fictional performance is fantastic.

This is a novel about the struggle against male power more than anything, with the domineering patriarchal father at the forefront. Melanie is tyrannized and during the play is 'raped' by the a swan being directed by her uncle. Her aunt has not spoken since her wedding night where she was given a necklace which might as well be a slave collar. Her refusal to speak is a refusal to partake in a world that is dominated by men, even language is male domineered, (phalologocentrism,) and this is why she refuses to participate in it. She refuses to bend, to be tacit and compliant in her supression.

Everything is resolved at the end in a pleasing dramatic event.

Angela Carter is a national treasure, may she rest in peace.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Magical stumbling. 21 Feb 2007
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Angela Carter was a master of really weird magical realism. Her second book "The Magic Toyshop," is basically a forcible coming of age/first love story, wrapped in a fairy-tale ambience and exquisitely detailed writing, but it's hard not to be frustrated by the abrupt, bizarre finale.

Melanie and her two siblings are suddenly orphaned, and whisked away from the beautiful country house and idyllic life they've always known. Soon they're living in a slummy area of the city, with their brutish toymaker Uncle Philip, wraithlike mute Aunt Margaret, and her two brothers, in a house that is crammed with the magnificent toys that Uncle Philip creates.

Melanie finds herself increasingly drawn to her aunt's brother Finn, a feisty Irish boy who hides an artistic soul and a punk attitude -- and he and Philip are locked in a silent war. As the family tensions come to a climax, Melanie learns of a dark secret that Aunt Margaret is hiding, and which can only end in a horrific tragedy.

"The Magic Toyshop's" title would make you think that it's about... well, the toys, or the toymaker. Instead, it's all about Melanie's maturation into a young woman, and how she leaves her childhood behind. Unfortunately it starts to stagger toward the finale, as if Carter didn't know how to deal with all this stuff.

What makes this novel so intoxicating is the lush writing. Carter fills her prose with a ripe sensuality, rich in colours, sensations, feelings and impressions (such as the horrifying attack by a swan puppet, a la Leda). And she accurately captures a young girl's dreams and exploration, such as Melanie posing before a mirror, pretending to be a classic artist's model.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly fantastic book... 11 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I finished The Magic Toyshop in one day (it's the type you just can't put down), and I can only say it is a brilliant book. On first reading, it's an engaging and captivating tale, but on reflection the multi-layered symbolism becomes apparent. It is a book which stays with you, and actually makes you think. I highly recommended it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Macabre and Magical 14 April 2010
By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
A coming of age tale with a twist - following the sudden death of her parents, our protagonist, Melanie, finds herself and her two younger siblings shunted off to stay with a fiercesome uncle and his bizarre family. Melanie embarks on a strange voyage of self discovery, learning about love, life and lascivious relatives en route.

A seemingly simple plot conceals an elaborate, Gothic tale as our heroine, not unlike Lewis Carroll's Alice, finds herself thrown into a weird, unfamiliar world peopled with grotesque characters. Nothing ever seems clean in this new environment, the lines between right and wrong become increasingly blurred and the reader is forced to question previously held beliefs about good and evil.

None of the characters are particularly appealing - Aunt Margaret is a mute who lives very much under the thumb of Uncle Philip who is not quite your archetypical kindly toymaker. Margaret's unkempt brothers, Francie and Finn, are almost dehumanised, also reduced to puppet like creatures manipulated by Philip.

In stark contrast to the grimy, claustraphobic setting, Angela Carter's writing style is beautifully lyrical. Thus, the macabre and the grotesque seem more palatable and less disturbing to the reader. Elements of the Gothic, Grand Guignol, Hammer Horror and a pinch of Shirley Jackson (We Have always Lived in the Castle) make this short novel a rollercoaster ride of powerful sensations - those of a nervous disposition and those who prefer neat, tidy endings would do well to stay clear! This was my first taste of Angela Carter's writing and I have a feeling I am going to savour the rest of her novels with equal satisfaction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Realism and Angela Carter at their best 11 Dec 2008
Format:Paperback
As far as I'm concerned this is Angela Carter's masterpiece. A very disturbing and sometimes strangely erotic, gothic fairytale set in a London toyshop.

Angela Carter is (or very sadly "was") the mistress of Magic Realism and I don't think she has ever been bettered. I think this is the finest example of her work and one of the most accessible. If you don't read anything else by her, read this.

I was lucky enough to speak to her once about The Magic Toyshop and she seemed pleased with it but a little less enthusiastic than I was. I got the impression she preferred some of her more complex later work but nevertheless she was very pleased with the attention it had drawn, and in my opinion it rightly deserves all the attention it gets.

I would also add that she was very pleased with the late 1980's film adaptation. It is quite faithful to the book and well worth a watch if you can get hold of a copy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Magic Toyshop
Strange story but at the end it felt inconclusive.

Interesting though. Not at all what I thought it would be about and not like the Angela Carter I had read before. Read more
Published 4 months ago by dotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy
The book arrived in good condition, though not the edition pictured. Great value for money, I am happy with my purchase
Published 11 months ago by Stacey Clay
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
My daughter liked the book a lot- she said she enjoyed the book- it was a very good read.

Thank you
Published 11 months ago by Peter Onono
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Although originally I was not a big Angela Carter fan, I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Magic Toyshop'. The magic realism mixes with the beautiful descriptions to create a compelling... Read more
Published 13 months ago by I C Hutchings
3.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre!
Mmmmm, not really sure about this one! Read it with book group. Took me a while to get into it an just found it all a bit bizarre!
Published 15 months ago by Eliza Doolittle
5.0 out of 5 stars an intriguing modern classic
This is a tremendously readable book, and I write as one who was obliged to read it, to help a student who was due to sit an exam., and read it rather unwillingly, to begin with. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Book
New favourite book. It was in good quality compared to most second hand books and I really happy I got this version of the cover art as well
Published 17 months ago by Hannah Woods
4.0 out of 5 stars A fairy-tale like coming of age story
This exquisite novel (which is refreshingly short so can be read in one sitting, on a rainy afternoon) starts with a wild, dark, memorable, night-time scene: Melanie, the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars A Richly-Textured Tale of Magic, Love and Toys
I've not read a huge amount of Angela Carter, but I've found this novel captivating, ever since I first read it as a teenager. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kate Hopkins
1.0 out of 5 stars horror!
I purchased and had this book MAGIC TOYSHOP delivered directly to a friend recovering from major surgery. Unfortunately she reports finding it badly
infected with book worm. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Rochester readers
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