Circus of Wonders
The spellbinding novel from the author of the Sunday Times bestselling The Doll Factory.
1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.
But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell's life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.
In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?
Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.
In the media
Circus of Wonders is a soaring, tumbling, whip-cracking book. Elizabeth Macneal has brought an extraordinary group of characters together in these pages; the result is a glittering world, a story as moving as it is deeply entertaining
Daniel Mason, author of The Piano Tuner
I loved The Doll Factory and I loved Circus Of Wonders just as much . . .An intriguing and beautifully written love story as well as an exploration of the journey from rejection to adoration . . . Elizabeth Macneal explores the nature of exploitation, pride and vanity through her vibrant and believable characters
Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl
A glittering, begrimed tale of love and self-determination flush with richly detailed prose. Sumptuous, macabre, enthralling; a perfect slice of Victoriana.
Jane Healey, author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor
A tremendous read. Richly imagined, vividly rendered, each scene is like an old painting in which light gleams off the detail . . . The story is full-bodied and addictive from the outset, told with pace and verve but never compromising style . . . Circus of Wonders displays in abundance everything readers loved about The Doll Factory . . . an ambitious, enlightening novel
Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters