#TsundokuSquad Book Club – April 2021 – Circus of Wonders

Hello fellow bookworms!

At the start of the year I announced that I had joined a book club (#TsundokuSquad) and today I am sharing our groups thoughts on our fourth read of the year. Every month our book choices seem to be getting better and better, last month we averaged 3.5 stars as a group and we are hoping that this months choice will be a crowd pleaser!

Title: Circus Of Wonders

Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Romance

Goodreads Rating: 4.32

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

#TsundokuSquad Average Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Source: NetGalley ARC


1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.

#TsundokuSquad Review:

There are a few members of our group who, like me, love historical fiction and as we are all trying to broaden our reading choices this seemed a great read to try. In previous months we have caught up on our book thoughts weekly but this month we decided to split the book differently. The book is told in five parts so we agreed to catch up at the end of part three and then again at the end. Here’s what we thought….

Parts One – Three

As a group we were are all enjoying the story & loved the different parts to it. This was more than just a story about a circus, it was filled with sibling relationships, love, trust, friendships and more. Toby and Jasper occupied most of the groups discussion with us all wondering what would happen to them. Which one of them killed Dash and what would happen to Jasper’s big circus dream next? A lot of us thought Jasper was very cruel and hoped the jackal would catch up with him in the next part.

As for the circus, the descriptions are so beautiful and picturesque that a lot of us can see if making a great film. The references to different parts of history were woven seamlessly into the story that it was hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Toby felt like the heart of the story for a lot of us and we were all hoping he would get his happy ending. His blossoming relationship with Nell and his future of a quiet life seemed such a small thing to want, given the life he had been living. Some of us weren’t sure how happy the ending would be but we really hoped the ending would tie up all the lose ends and feel like a completed story.

Parts Four and Five

On the whole we loved this book! The majority of the group gave it 5 stars and in my opinion it was worth every single one of them.

We loved the turbulent relationship between Jasper and Toby, which did reach an unexpected conclusion. Surprisingly some of us felt pity for Jasper, even though he was depicted as the villain. The backstory of the war and finally learning what happened to Dash helped us to understand both the brother’s a little better, especially why Toby felt betrayed.

A particular favourite character, aside from the mains, was Stella. I loved her personality and her candid attitude remained true until the very end. She had taken Nell under her wing and helped her realise her true potential whilst forging a life long friendship. A lot of us loved the transformation we saw in Toby and the braveness he showed towards the end, quite a few of us wanted to see his tattooed body too!

The magic of the circus captured us all and, without giving too much away, the ending was beautiful and heart breaking, definitely not one to be missed!


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