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The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan

The Invisible Circus (original 1995; edition 2012)

by Jennifer Egan

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4981720,501 (3.44)17
Title:The Invisible Circus
Authors:Jennifer Egan
Info:Corsair (2012), Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Tags:fiction, read12, femalewriter, suicide, 1960s, 1970s

Work details

The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan (1995)

  1. 00
    Layla by Celine Keating (thelittlematchgirl)
    thelittlematchgirl: both books tell the story of a young woman left behind by the death of an activist family member.
  2. 00
    Sister by A. Manette Ansay (ainsleytewce)

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The title refers partly to a Diggers' sponsored happening in late 1960s San Francisco, which was a strong influence on the book's characters Wolf and Faith. Faith is the dead older sister of the main character Phoebe, who, after graduating from high school in 1978, flies off to Europe following the trail of Faith's postcards from eight years before. The title also refers to the reverberations from the '60s felt as inner turmoil in younger brothers and sisters who weren't quite old enough to be there. This book was recommended to me by one of the organizers of this year's Ocean State Writers' Conference, which managed to snag Jennifer Egan to be the keynote speaker before she "beat out" Jonathan Franzen for this year's National Book Critics Circle award. ( )
  jpe9 | Aug 7, 2013 |
All of the quotes on the front and back cover promised this would be a "brilliant," "mesmerizing," and "emotional" book about an 18-year-old who backpacks across Europe tracing her dead older sister's path to the place in Italy where she committed suicide.

Instead, I found it dull, predictable, and irritating. The main character, Phoebe, is woefully naive to the point where I had absolutely no sympathy for her. I wanted to smack her and yell at her to grow up. The plot twist at the beginning Part 3 is practically expected, but the execution is too coincidental to be anything except poor writing, especially when it easily could have been made more plausible. The plot twist in the end was something I saw coming from the very beginning of the book. The romance that occupies the last 1/3 of the book is just awkward and ill-explained.

Probably not even a book I would have read if I hadn't enjoyed the author's The Keep, I should have trusted my instincts here. ( )
  BrookeAshley | May 23, 2013 |
Egan is always on my "must read" list, so I went back to her first novel, not expecting much. If only all first novels were so good! Egan has a special talent for describing & defining & illustrating close relationships that are off-kilter, permanently or temporarily. Her characters' actions & emotions are coherent unto themselves. You think you might know & understand them. Dialogue spot on. Situations interesting. Filled with good stuff, not just overlong location descriptions. Wish I wrote that! ( )
1 vote ReneeGKC | May 20, 2013 |
It was well written but boring. It is about a teenager tracing the path of her "flower child" sister, who died while trekking around Europe in the'60's. The premise is a good one, the time period is exciting and certainly interesting but after 150 pages of tedium, I gave up.
  lollypup | Apr 6, 2013 |
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". . . for the present age, which prefers the picture to the thing pictured, the copy to the original, imagination to reality, or the appearance to the essence . . . illusion alone is sacred to this age, but truth profane . . . so that the highest degree of illusion is to it the highest degree of sacredness." - Ludwig Fuerbach

"Exultation is the going/Of an inland soul to sea,/Past the houses - past the headlands-/
Into deep Eternity- . . . (Emily Dickinson)
For my mother, Kay Klimpton and my brother, Graham Kimpton.
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She's missed it, Pheobe knew by the silence.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307387526, Paperback)

In Jennifer Egan’s highly acclaimed first novel, set in 1978, the political drama and familial tensions of the 1960s form a backdrop for the world of Phoebe O’Connor, age eighteen. Phoebe is obsessed with the memory and death of her sister Faith, a beautiful idealistic hippie who died in Italy in 1970. In order to find out the truth about Faith’s life and death, Phoebe retraces her steps from San Francisco across Europe, a quest which yields both complex and disturbing revelations about family, love, and Faith’s lost generation. This spellbinding novel introduced Egan’s remarkable ability to tie suspense with deeply insightful characters and the nuances of emotion.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In San Francisco, a conventional woman who has always been fascinated by her hippie sister, retraces the sister's European trip which ended in her death. In the process of learning more about her, the idol loses some of the glitter. A first novel.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.44)
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