Cirkus by Patti Frazee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's difficult to review or rate this book. It took me over two months (!) to slog through the first half, and two days to tear through the second half, which I could not put down. In the first half we meet a band of turn-of-the-20th-century circus performers, including a Gypsy, a fire-eating dwarf and a pair of conjoined twins. Despite their oddness, they never really grabbed me, except by very scattered turns, and even then not for long. None of the characters were sympathetic enough to make me care very much what happened to them, and therein lies the bigger problem--nothing much happened at all. I could not stick with reading for more than a few pages, and never felt drawn to go back to it, though I doggedly pushed on, however slowly. I almost quit several times, not because it was bad, but because it just wasn't good enough.
Then came the second half. Finally, things started moving, secrets are revealed, intrigues are played out, and most of all, the humanness of all these characters bursts forth in all their flawed desire, courage, and failings. If the whole book had been as excellent as the second half, I would have given it 5 stars, but getting through the first half was such a chore, I can't be quite that forgiving. Still, recommended with the warning that it takes foreverrrr to get going. If you can hang in, it pays off.
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