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Book Review: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter


     Nights at the Circus is a brain-splitting ideal-smashing feminist fairy tale.  It follows the adventures of Sophie Fevvers, a woman with wings who becomes a famous trapeze artist at the close of the nineteenth century, and of the reporter who must transform his worldview in order to love her.
     Fevvers is the best thing about the story.  She's described as a "giantess" - six feet tall, buff, and curvy, with huge wings - and her personality is as big as she is.  She eats, drinks, talks, and farts a lot. She has a thick Cockney accent and a strong body odor.  She is also a world-famous sex symbol.  I love the way Fevvers challenges my understanding of what a beautiful woman is, and why a woman's beauty or femininity is considered her most valuable trait.
     There are a million delicious characters in this story - an activist ex-prostitute, a Princess who trains tigers, and a chubby capitalist who wears a stars-and-stripes suit and consults a pig for advice, for example. There's also a panopticon-style prison for murderesses.  I could go on but I won't.  Read the book!

     - Carly

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