Nights at the Circus
(1984) is a novel by Angela Carter
about a woman with wings
who hides in a circus
by pretending to be a woman who pretends to have wings. Fevvers, a young Cockney
woman, was raised in a whorehouse
on whose steps she was laid as an infant
. She endures all kinds of adventures, first being sold as a sideshow freak
, then skyrocketing to international stardrom, and finally being kidnap
ped by revolutionaries in Siberia
. The descriptions and characterizations of Fevvers and the people around her are exquisitely detailed, and the mystery of whether Fevvers really does have wings (or is she a normal woman pretending to be a woman with wings who is pretending to be a normal woman pretending to have wings?) is irresistable.
The book is marvelous, and you never have any idea what's going to happen next. Maybe it was just the circus setting, but it kind of reminded me of Geek Love in some ways.