BOOK BOX

Escape into the world of the circus

"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth/ and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings," wrote John Gillespie Magee in his poem High Flight. In this week's edition of Book Box, slip the bonds of phase two (heightened alert) with escapist novels about the circus and two new historical books about flight

British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.
British author Elizabeth Macneal (left) delves into the dark side of the Victorian circus trade in her second novel, Circus Of Wonders.PHOTO: MAT SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

"The circus arrives without warning." So begins The Night Circus (2011), Erin Morgenstern's debut novel set in a magical black-and-white circus of dreams.

Tales of the circus have offered readers enchantment and escape through the years, and a new cavalcade of novels seeks to deliver that sense of wonder amid the weight of the pandemic.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 01, 2021, with the headline 'Escape into the world of the circus'. Subscribe