First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe’s capitals, part swan… or all fake?
Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia.
Another work week is in the books. It’s finally time to dive into the weekend! I hope you ended the workweek on a high note. I hope you could accomplish all the tasks you set out to complete at the start of the week. I hope that you will greet the weekend with a triumphant smile painted on your face. For those who had a challenging week at the office, I hope the weekend will provide the rest and relaxation you need. I hope you get to spend the weekend recouping the energy that’s been zapped out of you. I hope you use it to realign your energy and plan ahead for a better week. More importantly, I hope you are all doing well, in mind, body, and spirit. COVID19 still remains a threat and any misstep might undo the progress we had in the past year. I fervently hope that the virus gets completely eradicated. Only time will tell.
Wow. Today is the last Friday of June. We are already midway through the year. I hope you had a great first half of 2022. Else, I hope things start looking up for everyone. Before I can dive into the weekends, let me close this past work week with a fresh First Impression Friday update. In the past two months, I have been indulging myself in the works of European Literature. This journey took me to different parts of the continent. Each book I read made me see different landscapes at different points in time, from the snow-clad Scandinavian regions to the war-torn Balkan region to medieval Italy to Regency-era England. It was a smorgasbord of different flavors. It has been a scintillating experience because it provided me insights into the continent, its culture, and its diverse population.
To make the journey more interesting, I have been alternating new-to-me writers and not-so-new-to-me writers. I am currently reading my first novel by popular British writer, Angela Carter. A few years back, I kept encountering her novel Nights at the Circus on many a must-read list. At first, I was apprehensive but eventually relented and added it to my growing reading list. I finally acquired a copy of the book last year. Curious about what it has in store – it is listed as one of 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – I made it part of my journey European literary journey, although, again, I originally didn’t plan on reading it.
At the heart of Nights at the Circus is Sophie Fevvers. She was recounting her story to an American journalist named Jack Walser while they were in her London dressing room. She claimed to have been left as a baby on the doorsteps of a brothel. Growing up, there was nothing impressive about Sophie except for a pair of lumps on each of her shoulders. When she started having her menstrual cycles, the lumps developed into complete wings. We then follow her journey until she ended up in the circus where she is currently employed as a premier aerialiste extraordinaire. She was one of the stars of the show and it was her peculiarity that reeled in Walser. In her story, he saw an opportunity, a scoop of a lifetime. To complete that, however, he must join her and her circus troupe across Europe.
I admit I am having quite a challenging time appreciating the story. It is heavy on the tell, mostly because of the structure where Sophie was directly conversing with Walser. Because of this, it seems that there was not a lot happening, and not a lot of action takes place. It did not help that there were moments when Sophie was an unreliable narrator; Carter was making the readers guess whether her story is legitimate or a ploy. After all, she works in a circus, a place of oddities. The veracity of Sophie’s story, however, is laced with mystery. I am currently in the second part of the novel, where the circus has moved to St. Petersburg. This part has more showing than telling.
Because of the challenges I am having with the book, my reading pace is slower than normal. I want to bide my time so that I can fully understand the story. After all, I am treading unfamiliar territory. I am hoping to learn more about Sophie, including her provenance and if those wings are the real McCoy. Apparently, there are some undertones of romance or a love story developing. Or perhaps not. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!