Amita Parikh’s debut novel, The Circus Train, is a luxurious romantic adventure

The circus train
Amita Parich
Hachette, $32.99

The debut novel by Amita Parikh The circus train is a luxurious romantic adventure likely to be adapted to the big screen. Why? Remember this movie water for elephants, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon? I know it’s been criticized for its poor casting – has there ever been a worse couple on screen than these two? – but the film was still nice to watch.

I kept thinking about it while reading Parikh’s novel, which had the carnivalesque atmosphere of Francis Lawrence’s film throbbing on every page.

Amita Parikh's novel The Circus Train has an intriguing quality.

Amita Parikh’s novel The Circus Train has an intriguing quality.Credit:

in many ways The circus train is set in the tradition of stealth hits that draw on our love of 20th-century circus drama. Here is the ringmaster Horace (think Christoph Waltz in water for elephants), who is responsible for the show at The World of Wonders. Our romantic team consists of Alexandre (think Pattinson), who is Jewish and also orphaned, and Lena (think Witherspoon, but motherless) and has polio. Unsurprisingly, she is friendless and lonely. Kids can be so judgmental and they judge her because she is a wheelchair user.



That loneliness is compounded by a unique sting – her father, Theo, is one of the most famous and celebrated illusionists of his time. He is protective, opinionated and caring towards his daughter.

He takes Alexandre as his protégé because the boy has an uncanny talent for reading people and manipulating objects, but also because he can see the fascinating gift Alexandre offers his daughter – friendship.

Thanks to Horace’s monstrous foresight and his capitalism, father, daughter and Alexandre are well taken care of – even if only one of them is immediately bankable.

The World of Wonders is touring Europe, a traveling circus whose private motto is “exclusivity paired with hedonism”. Performers and artists of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities cut, saw, build, calculate, practice, swing, fly, bend. They are carefully selected for their differences, “those who have either been consumed by the grief of losing someone or who have consistently finished third or fourth in their respective sport or art form.” Amita Parikh’s debut novel, The Circus Train, is a luxurious romantic adventure

Jaclyn Diaz

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