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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jennings (Aztec, The Journeyer) spent considerable time accompanying modern circuses to write this long historical novel that begins wth one conflict on the American continentthe Civil Warand ends vividly with another, in Europethe Franco-Prussian War. After the Confederate Army lays down its weapons at Appomattox two ex-rebel soldiers join up with the ragtag Florilegium circus making its way through the back towns of war-torn Virginia. The circus's leader, an Alsatian named Florian, tours with the unusual international players and their seedy animals. Desiring grand success, they cross the sea to rival the big tops of Europe, and journey from Italy, through the Germanic countries, over to Russia and finally to France. Along the way, performers join and leave, or are killed through dangerous stunts and misfortunes; amorous affairs among the multinational circus people begin and, often tragically, end; the royalty of Europe shares confidences with the entertainers; and Florilegium is transformed from small-town American carnival to major European circus. Spangle is a novel about a spectacle, but the reader's hope that it will acquire momentum is not quite fulfilledat least until its stirring look at the invaded France of 1870. Jennings does provide intriguing circus lore, and he retells 19th century social history as if it were unfolding news. Those who value solid historical research and do not require more than minor drama will find this hefty novel well worth the read. 100,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (November 10)
Library Journal
Jennings ( Aztec, The Journeyer ) intended this to be the definitive novel of the big top. It spans six years, and ranges from the Virginia countryside in the weeks following Appomattox through Central Europe and across the Russian steppes to Paris during the Seige and Commune. Exotic locations are a Jennings trademark: so too is graphic violence. There is an abundance of it here. There's plenty of sex, too, including lesbianism and pederasty. And, most importantly, there's a fascinating wealth of circus lore. Less fascinating is the big cast of characters, all rather sketchily drawn. Probably not the definitive circus novel, but surely a satisfying entertainment. Literary Guild main selection.. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568497273
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Pages: 880
  • Sales rank: 572,772
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 2.13 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Gary Jennings' books (written by him alone/no co-author) are different to say the least. They are not for the prim or easily shocked; you will learn many things whether you admit to it or not. My favorite was "Raptor", if u can find a copy

    Spangle involves the circus & it's people throughout Europe & the America's (if I remember The geography correctly). Raptor followed the life of a hermaphrodite, starting when he/she is discovered in a convent! Aztec follows their practices, including the Spaniards landing and their attempt to dominate this intelligent, proud, and blood-thirsty race. I believe most of the following Aztec... books are co-written, and they suffer from it. Raptor was the 1st I read and will always be my favorite of Jennings' books; Spangle is second. If you have an open mind & a thirst for wide-ranging knowledge, try these books!

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    Posted March 5, 2009

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