Updated on August 5, 2015
27. ‘The Invisible Circus’ by Jennifer Egan
Often books with blurbs that read something along the lines of ‘…and she must uncover the family’s terrible secret…’ turn me off. ‘The Invisible Circus’ is definitely one of those books. Fortunately, it’s not a bad one!
Phoebe has always been a shy, quiet girl, especially since the death of older, hippy sister Faith. In the years following Faith’s death the family gradually disintegrates, until Phoebe decides to run away to Europe, to follow her sister’s footsteps and find out what really happened to her.
There is some fantastic writing in this book, and plenty of intense emotion. This does get a little wearing after a while – there’s only so much physically palpable emotion I can take. Phoebe seems to project everything she’s feeling onto her surroundings, so the light is always changing, or the horizon always shifting in accordance with her latest drama. I don’t mind this technique being used a little, but here it happens practically all the time.
There is also a quite ridiculous plot implausibility. Phoebe happens to stumble across Faith’s old boyfriend as she goes, on a whim, to an apartment in Germany. As for the wild affair that Phoebe has with said boyfriend, it’s very exciting, but I’m not sure what it was for. And I feel very sorry for the current girlfriend, Carla.
Still, the ending is pretty good. The ‘big secret’ is worth reading for and Phoebe does genuinely develop as a character during the novel. She is always a little off kilter, but becomes far more confident in herself as she goes on, especially after the chaos of the fantastically rendered drug-taking scene.
This is a fast-paced story and a good read. Even if the earth does keep shifting under Phoebe’s feet.
“Beneath all this lay a frame of past events, a structure upon which the present was stretched like a skin.”
This one was sent to me by Book Oxygen, as part of their Inner Circle readership. It’s the first one they have sent out, and I look forward to more!
If you enjoyed my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?