Books: On the Wings of a New Age Nights At the Circus

by Angela Carter; Viking; 295 pages; $15.95

The year is 1899, and something eerie is happening. Sophie Fevvers, a trapeze artist who has already taken the Continent by storm, now holds London in thrall. Her act is indeed worth catching. For Fevvers, who stands 6 ft. 2 in. tall, also boasts a pair of wings that, when spread, span 6 ft. She does not hurtle; she soars. Attracted by the publicity, an American journalist named Jack Walser thinks he may have found another subject for a series he is planning on "Great Humbugs of the World." He interviews the famed "Cockney Venus" in her dressing room after a...

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