The Trapeze Act (Libby Angel, Text)
The Trapeze Act is a beautifully lyrical novel about the search for meaning and identity in 1970s Australia. This is quite a task for Loretta—daughter of a loose-cannon ex-carnie mother and a distant, barrister father—whose story of growing up in the shadows of flamboyant and successful parents is interwoven with tales of her mother’s tragic circus memories and scraps of her great-grandfather’s failed ivory explorations of the Australian outback, which are delivered in increasingly desperate excerpts from his journal. The beauty of The Trapeze Act lies in its seamless retelling of Australian, in particular South Australian, history. Author Libby Angel’s research is evident in the journals of Loretta’s great-grandmother as she sails from England to Australia, with stories of fever and death aboard the boat. Mentions of Adelaide street names and businesses jump out to a local reader, but they could easily be found in any Australian city. The British settlers’ exploration of inland South Australia is moving, beginning with hope and naivety, but gradually being crushed by the relentless heat of the desert. The brutal and tragic circus tales in The Trapeze Act will appeal to fans of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, while the family drama and Australian history will delight any modern literature reader.
Louise Fay is the special orders manager at Dymocks Adelaide