I finally finished my Classics Club spin book, Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, on the very last day of the challenge. Not because it was a particularly hard read, it wasn’t, but because it was one of the few books I didn’t already own and when it arrived I suddenly had almost no reading time. Due to my lateness, and even more due to the fact that I’m currently somewhat overworked and completely uninspired, I won’t give this novel the proper review it really deserves.
Published in 1984 it is one of the youngest books on my classics list, one I added to my list after being stunned by her brilliant short story collection The Bloody Chamber and other stories. Most of the novels I have read lately have been sharp, restrained texts but Carter’s is neither. Indeed Angela Carter may be the least restrained author I have read anything by, she is constantly pushing the border between brilliance and nonsense. Her imagery is rich, disturbing and always on the brink of collapse but somehow it mostly works. I left the novel with a wide collection of imagery and ideas but the over-abundance of the text is such that I know that I probably missed half of it. As a break from the more focused texts I usually read I found it very refreshing but my recommendation if you want to explore Angela Carter’s works would be to start with The Bloody Chamber and other stories which remains my favourite.
Last year this book was discussed in a series of articles for The Guardian‘s reading group. I really recommend this article series if you are interested in in-depth discussions of the novel. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 (with some spoilers).