From the home of Stylist



• Fevvers. The central character, given name Sophie and, possibly, part swan. Fevvers is a cockney Venus, 6’2”, with laddered stockings, a voice like “clanging dustbin lids” and the most famous trapeze artist of her day. She was supposedly hatched from a giant egg left on the door of a brothel. Do we believe her? We’d like to.

• The language. Angela Carter is a mesmerising writer. The circus and its employees allow her to flit between styles and to play with magic, glamour and celebrity.

• The sadness of the clowns. We have always suspected a dark side to the circus fools. The passages detailing the clowns’ dismal accommodation in Russia and the madness of their leader Buffo The Great are rhythmically beautiful.

It’s funny, gleefully wicked, intelligent, surprising and arresting. But it does have one moral: all the fame in the world won’t help you if you’re stranded in the Siberian wilderness.

Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter (Vintage, £8.99)


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