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Circus of Wonders

Elizabeth Macneal

$32.99

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Picador
11 May 2021
It is 1865 and in a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart from her community because of the birthmarks that pepper her skin, Nell keeps her head down and her sights small: her world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

Then, Jasper Jupiter's Circus of Wonders arrives on the outskirts of the village. Nell keeps her distance, but the night after the circus has apparently left, she is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell's life, but as she comes to know the other performers and Jasper's quieter, gentler brother Toby, Nell begins to wonder if becoming part of the Circus of Wonders is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

Toby has always stuck to his brother's side: the shadow to his brother's luminous light. When Jasper served in the Crimean War, Toby followed with his camera, and they share a secret - hidden amongst the carnage of those battlefields - which binds them together.

But Toby is captivated by Nell. She has become Nellie Moon, the star of Jasper's show. In London she is written up in the papers as the eighth wonder of the world, figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air.

But who gets to tell Nell's story? And as she falls in love with Toby, can they plot their escape? As the world Jasper has created threatens to crash to the ground around him, Toby must decide where - finally - his loyalty lies.

This is a novel with a vivid, brilliant cast of characters and themes of creativity and ownership, beauty and power, success and crashing failure, and the Victorian obsession with spectacle.
By:   Elizabeth Macneal
Imprint:   Picador
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   474g
ISBN:   9781529002515
ISBN 10:   1529002516
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   11 May 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Scotland and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA, where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship. She is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller The Doll Factory, which won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. Circus of Wonders is her second book.

Reviews for Circus of Wonders

Expansive and tender . . . it really pulls you into this fascinating world. -- Beth Underdown, author of<i> The Witchfinder's Sister</i> A beautifully told and immersive look at a complex dance between exploitation and empowerment, and the question of what it really means to have control over your own life. I adored its characters, I was utterly gripped throughout, and I loved having my eyes opened to the troubling yet fascinating world of Victorian circuses -- Naomi Ishiguro, author of <i>Escape Routes</i> Elizabeth Macneal's novel is spectacular - a book of wonders! -- Alix Nathan, author of <i>The Warlow Experiment</i> I was dazzled by it from beginning to end. What a fabulous, riveting, engrossing story! There's such a creepy undercurrent of dread and violence running just beneath the surface of everything she writes, yet there's humanity and kindness, a palpable love for Nell and the other circus performers that makes all the characters come to life -- Whitney Scharer, author of <i>The Age of Light</i> A tremendous read. Richly imagined, vividly rendered, each scene is like an old painting in which light gleams off the detail . . . The story is full-bodied and addictive from the outset, told with pace and verve but never compromising style . . . Circus of Wonders displays in abundance everything readers loved about The Doll Factory . . . an ambitious, enlightening novel -- Emma Stonex, author of <i>The Lamplighters</i> A glittering, begrimed tale of love and self-determination flush with richly detailed prose. Sumptuous, macabre, enthralling; a perfect slice of Victoriana. -- Jane Healey, author of <i>The Animals at Lockwood Manor</i> I loved The Doll Factory and I loved Circus Of Wonders just as much . . .An intriguing and beautifully written love story as well as an exploration of the journey from rejection to adoration . . . Elizabeth Macneal explores the nature of exploitation, pride and vanity through her vibrant and believable characters -- Jenny Quintana, author of <i>The Missing Girl</i> Circus of Wonders is a soaring, tumbling, whip-cracking book. Elizabeth Macneal has brought an extraordinary group of characters together in these pages; the result is a glittering world, a story as moving as it is deeply entertaining -- Daniel Mason, author of <i>The Piano Tuner</i>


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