Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe circus that comes to Norma, N.J., (pop. 506) one summer's day in 1941 will, in the conventions governing fiction, bring with it labyrinthine mysteries and manifold secrets and will leave no life unchanged. Theodora Walsh and Lenore Bloom, both born on the same day decades earlier, are sisters-in-law. A ``born victim,'' the narcoleptic Lenore has lain inert for years. Her wild, despotic brother Jethro vanished long ago under sinister circumstances. Their kind, decent brother Dexter, married to Theodora, is the father of lovely, spirited adolescent Lilly, around whom much of the action revolves. She is a plausible, attractive heroine, and this at first seems a moderately compelling tale of small-town conflcts, of the nature of illusion and fantasy, told in a pleasantly quirky prose heightened by touches of the grotesque. But Bukiet's heavy-handed symbolism threatens to undermine the narrative, and his tendency to explain and elucidate in a dull, discursive vein often causes the tale to lose momentum and all but come to a full stop. January 6
Library Journal - Library JournalA South Jersey village in 1940 is fairly remote from the world, and the egg-farming Bloom family is even more removed from reality. When a circus comes to town for a day, it radically changes their lives in unimaginable ways. The adolescent Lilly gains an insight into adulthood, her parents are rejuvenated, a baby is conceived, and a mystery is revealed. The hocus-pocus of the midway performers alters reality, and the reader is never sure whether there is real magic here, mere sleight-of-hand, or just stupidity. Given the actions of the main characters, however, it is a choice only between the last two. There are too many questions that remain unresolved, and the way the ending is patched together strains credulity. A first novel, this is only for regional collections. W. Keith McCoy, South Amboy P.L., N.J.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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