The Magic Toyshop

The Magic Toyshop

by Angela Carter

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140256406
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 235,275
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Angela Carter (1940–1992) wrote nine novels and numerous short stories, as well as nonfiction, radio plays, and the screenplay for Neil Jordan's 1984 movie The Company of Wolves, based on her story of the same name. She won numerous literary awards, traveled and taught widely in the United States, and lived in London.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A magic novel, sexy and eccentric, romantic and tricky."
Voice Literary Supplement

"Beneath its contemporary surface, this novel shimmers with blurred echoes—from Lewis Carroll, from 'Giselle' and 'Coppelia,' Harlequin and Punch.… It leaves behind it a flavor, pungent and unsettling."
—The New York Times Book Review

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The Magic Toyshop 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
krisiti on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The writing's very elaborate and discursive at the beginning, which has a distancing effect. Not transparent-glass distance, but something cloudy and distracting: looking at the words instead of through them at the story.It did clear. I don't know if the writing style changed or if I became accustomed to it, and the story was disturbing enough that I don't want to reread to find out. It's the total destruction of Miranda's comfortable life and self that bothers me -- nothing left by the end, and her perverse boyfriend isn't much consolation.
ed.pendragon on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Though this is an early work, I found it a much more engrossing read than some of Angela Carter's shorter stories in the collection The Bloody Chamber. One of the fascinating things about humans is their propensity for confounding expectations, and while it was possible to see where the narrative generally was going, I was drawn to these grotesques despite their very obvious failings by their surprising resourcefulness as they tried to cope with Uncle Philip's cruel and despotic regime. In fact, despite their clearly delineated and sometimes unforgivable vices (unsavoury habits, voyeurism, unmitigated cruelty, incestuous relationships and acquiescent victimhood) you can't help admiring their positive, mostly creative attributes: Uncle Philip's sheer inventiveness, Finn's painting, Francie's musicianship, Margaret's jewel-like cooking, Jonathan's model-making. Much has been made of Carter's riffs on folktales in her writings, and especially on the role of the Bluebeard story in The Magic Toyshop. It's true that she deliberately draws attention to 'Bluebeard' (and the related English tale of 'Mr Fox') by getting Melanie to muse on the correspondences; and in fact Carter alludes to her villain's facial hair by giving him a walrus moustache (though this is not in evidence in the film adaptation, a still from which is on the cover of my edition of the novel). But it's important to notice references to other fairytales, both explicit and implicit; for example in the dishing up of porridge at the breakfast table we are invited to recall the story of 'The Three Bears', and there are numerous other instances. But I'd like to draw attention to the centrality of puppets in the story, part of Carter's exploration of the dehumanising aspect of absolute power. In the ballet Coppélia (based on E T A Hoffman's story 'The Sandman') Swanilda suspects that her fiancé Franz has apparently fallen for the mysterious Coppélia, only to find that the latter is in fact a lifesize puppet. I'm sure Carter has taken elements from this (Franz perhaps suggested the name Francie) and similar tales, not least in the climactic Leda and the Swan scene, to help create such a rich mix of emotions and ideas and images.It has often been said that folktales and myths, despite their often large cast of characters, are essentially about the relationships and dynamics within a family, and The Magic Toyshop largely fits this pattern in that most of the characters are related to each other. It's hardly surprising that incest rears its head, not just between two of the characters caught in flagrante but also in Uncle Philip's attempted rape of Melanie through the agency of his giant swan marionette.Lots of other aspects of this tale make this for me a haunting and consummate piece of storytelling. I particularly like the puns and word-plays that she employs: dark-haired Melanie (from a Greek root, meaning black); the alliteration of Philip, Flower, Finn and Francie; the supine statue of Queen Victoria and the rather passive figure of Melanie's sister Victoria, the opposite of the active meaning of the name. The final conflagration, which is almost a deus ex machina resolution (despite being brought about by Uncle Philip himself), is a shocking conclusion but also with mythic resonances as Melanie and Finn, like a pair of doomed Celtic lovers, clamber out onto the roof, out in the open air away from the claustrophobic confines of this modern-day Bluebeard¿s castle.
LisaMorr on LibraryThing 25 days ago
What a little treasure. The Magic Toyshop is about a girl (15) and her 2 siblings sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle and cousins.What a strange family she has joined - the Uncle, huge and imperious; the Aunt, struck dumb on her wedding day; and her two brothers, one a quiet fiddler, the other a gangly dancer. Everyone works for Mr. Flower (the uncle) to support his toyshop. Yet he is disdainful of anyone who buys a toy because of its novelty. And he loves his puppets.The story revolves around Melanie and how she manages to endure in this environment.One quibble is that I was occasionally thrown out of the story by some issues with writing. One example I can point to is this: "And their father, who was he? Everything, family jokes and their parents' love-letters before they were married (if their parents had exchanged love-letters) and cut locks of treasured hair and clippings of birth announcements from yellowed old local newspapers. She felt she would die if she could not know everything." The parenthetical statement is out of character and just didn't go along with the mood of the narrator. It stopped me in my (reading) tracks....But anyway, there wasn't that much of that. And I really did like it, it had a lot of unexpected moments in it.
duck2ducks on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This book began as a slightly strange one, and ended even stranger. Dark, revealing, and with anticipated dread, Angela Carter's prose is marvelous in its descriptive alchemy. Acutely felt tension swells steadily as bursts of abstraction spring forth more and more, ending in one of the odder concluding chapters I've ever read in a novel.
rainbowfaerie on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A darkly, disturbingly brilliant description of a young woman's journey into adolescence and of trying on different roles (child, mother, bride, wife) for size on and off the stage. Thrown into an unknown world and an unknown family, Melanie begins to understand others in relation to herself and tries to find her way. Angela Carter shows understanding of a 15-year-old's thinking while placing the protagonist in an environment which enables her to live out her fantasies and nightmares.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Magic Toyshop is a retelling of Bluebeard, when a teenage girl named Melanie becomes imprisoned in her abusive uncle's home. But not imprisoned in the literal or fairy tale sense; this imprisonment is a more pernicious sort, predicated upon power and powerlessness, autonomy and means. And Uncle Philip's household reinforces its own oppression and subjugation to emotional abuse through the fear of what might happen if he is defied. Philip's absent domination of the household's concern re-creates him as more of a narrative force than a real character, against which the household strains and defines itself by.But the household itself is a digression from the traditional Bluebeard fairy tale. Rather than being kept in isolation, Melanie takes solace in her aunt and in-laws: first because of the emotional bond based on the shared psychology living under Philip, then a stronger bond built upon mutual love and humanity, even in the face of Philip's dehumanizing aggression. The household itself is a subversion of Philip's terror by virtue of its collective strength and mutual encouragement; Philip, on the other hand, in isolation with a hobby of puppetry that surpasses his care and attention for actual fleshly humans, is lacking and weaker in comparison to the bonds that emerge among the rest of the family. A really interesting look at the psychology of fear, and a fascinating retelling of the fairy tale.
thioviolight on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book is another pleasant surprise. I got it without having read any of Carter's fiction yet, and I finished it loving her! The story has an air of strangeness that I found hard to resist.
SmithSJ01 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I couldn't get enough of this novel. From an unenthusiastic start this soon took off at chapter 2 and then I couldn't put it down. I love Carter's writing style and I was surprised to see that this was only her second novel; it seemed so structured and confident. A super super novel! In discussion with others I was trying to work out why this a fairy tale when we tend to associate them with fanciful tales of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children; however a fairy tale can also be a fictitious, highly fanciful story or explanation and I think it falls into the latter. It is an explanation of Melanie finding herself as a woman or an object in society. All the different representations of woman that Melanie goes through at the beginning, using the art form and then again the different interpretations of woman through the female characters - Mother, Mrs Rundle, Aunt Margaret, child (Victoria) and young adult (Melanie) were put together so well. Very clever! Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytical theory of the Mirror Stage struck a chord with me, especially the opening pages in relation to this. It's all about Ego, the body image and the mother. Then the mirror was taken away from her when they moved to Uncle Philip's house. He reminded me of the Evil Queen in Snow White, which is again representative of the Mirror Stage. I think the title is quite apt, the toyshop is magic. Magic is a mysterious quality of enchantment and to be magic you possess distinctive qualities. Uncle Philip tried to perform his own magic by recreating a world he wanted and that he could control - Evil Queen? In one way or another they all possessed distinctive qualities and even down to the toyshop from the title, what is a toyshop? A toy is something you play with - which Uncle Philip did all the time, he played with them. An overwhelming 5/5 for me! It's now my fourth Angela Carter book and it certainly won't be my last.