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The Magic Toyshop (VMC) Paperback – 31 Dec 1981


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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: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,655 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.

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The summer she was fifteen, Melanie discovered she was made of flesh and blood. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 April 2010
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Lyon on 1 Nov. 2008
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 By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Feb. 2007
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 By A Customer on 11 April 2001
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 May 2013
Format: Paperback
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. Melanie, 15 years old, does a terrible but understandable thing, intruding on the lives of her absent parents. Then there is a devastating blow for her and her two siblings, Jonathan and Victoria, and she blames herself - she believes she has brought this on the three of them (though we can see that there is no necessary connection at all). Thus they find themselves with Uncle Philip and Aunt Margaret in the house above the magic toyshop. The whole thing is like a modern fantasy or fairy story - it has many of the elements of a fairly sinister fairy story - set prosaically in an unremarkable London suburb in, perhaps, the mid-20th. century. There are feminist, sexual and 'growing-up' undertones throughout, each of which adds to the 'feel' of the book, but its principal strengths are in its cloying, startling atmosphere, the extent to which we feel sympathy for Melanie, Aunt Margaret and her two brothers Finn and Francie, and its narrative edge ; you do indeed read on to see what happens next! It is also beautifully written. It convinced me, and it didn't take long to do it, and I enjoyed it greatly.
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