Josser: The Secret Life of a Circus Girl Paperback – 6 Apr 2000
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I should preface this review by saying that, whatever my disagreements with Stroud, I think she is a brilliant writer. Read morePublished on 6 Nov. 2011 by M. Eloise Harding
I decided to buy this book after seeing Nell's own show - Gifford's circus, at the Hay on Wye festival last summer. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2006 by Bethany Williams