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Josser: The Secret Life of a Circus Girl Paperback – 6 Apr 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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  • Josser: The Secret Life of a Circus Girl
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  • Giffords Circus: The First Ten Years
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  • Beneath the Big Top: A Social History of the Circus in Britain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (6 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860496954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860496950
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

A "josser" is an outsider, someone who comes to, rather than from, the circus. Nell Stroud came into the circus from university, and from selling tickets during the morning and ice- creams during the performance she worked her way up to the role of ringmistress astride her beloved horse Prince in the family-run Santus Circus, touring Britain during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. This is her account of the people she encountered and the life she led, as she pulls back the Big Top's flaps and ushers us in.

Her words are, in its truest sense, a chronicle. Early on she relates how circus folk accept her fairly quickly due to her private, non-gossipy nature, and this is a quality that shines through her text. The problem is, writers are usually fantastic gossips, and a body of writing stripped of curiosity seems bare, or at best functional. Her staccato style of adjectival abstinence is that of a diarist intent on preserving fact at the expense of reflection, leaving one longing for a sentence of Proustian extravagance. This is a pity, because her subtext, of how her family life was shattered by an awful accident to her mother which seemed to impel young Nell in to the ring, is certainly there, and would add dimension to what is essentially a series of anecdotes stretched to a narrative. What is clear is that Nell Stroud has circus in her soul. Whether she has poetry is another matter. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A dream book (THE BOOKSELLER)

She did something we all dream of doing. Her book is a brave attempt to keep this dream alive (Dea Birkett)

Above all Stroud has written an elegy for the circus and its traditions...We are lucky to have the record of this book (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

JOSSER is a paean to the circus: an impassioned plea for understanding and tolerance of its performers, as well as an obsessive account of the daily hardships of life in the Big Top (TLS)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. J. C. Clubb VINE VOICE on 24 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
There hasn't been a book like "Josser" since Paul Galligo's "Love, Let Me Not Hunger" in the 1960's.
Like Galligo Nell Stroud neither plays up to the imagined fairy tale of the circus nor looks down on it, but instead looks at the ailing traditional industry in UK through an outsider's eyes. What you get is an evocative and honest story of a young woman's quest for her childhood dream.
"Josser" brings the circus tale up to date and makes great comparisons between the different types of shows and the people who live on them. There is also a great passage explaining how circuses relate to the country of their origin.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Josser" and look forward to Ms. Stroud's next publication, "Phillip Astley."
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Format: Paperback
Nell Stroud shows us her highly individual view of the world of the Circus -- a world peopled by stubborn, physically hard people who aren't intending to let go of their way of life in spite of the efforts of politicians and campaigners. She finds that the 'romance' is just blood, sweat, and tears; and then changes managements to find a show that seems genuinely romantic and quaint by comparison with the larger circus she's just abandoned. Not always totally accurate, but conveying the raw 'feel' of life under and around the Big Top.
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Format: Paperback
I have just been on holiday and enjoyed reading this book.i felt i understood how hard the circus life is.nell describes her journey very well.the experiences of the different circus s ,she works for.its great to know now what she has achieved with giffords circus.i loved it.louise
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Format: Hardcover
Nell Stroud's account of her life working in the circus is real eye-opener, taking the reader into a community and way of life ordinarily closed to the likes of you and me.It is not only a facinating personal account but also addresses ideas of the nature of communities, private languages, life and work, life and art. Brilliant through and through.
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By A Customer on 11 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
Nell Stroud fell in love with traditional circuses and learned her circus skills the hard way. This book is vivid on the hardships of circus life, the difficulties of establishing yourself as a circus person rather than a 'josser' (an outsider passing through), and the joys of circus as an art form.
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