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3.7 out of 5 stars
The Invisible Circus
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
I just finished Invisible Circus and I can honestly say that it's the best book I've read in ages. There was this part where Pheobe said something like " Everything I've ever wanted in life is something someone else already has" That just stopped me cold for a moment. I think all of us have felt like that at one time or another. Circus does more than tell the story of a girl in search of not only herself, but the world. It tells the truth about us all, whether you're a Pheobe, Faith, Wolf, Gail, Barry, or even their father. I've certainly known someone like every one of them in my life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 1996
Format: Paperback
One of the best books I have ever read. It is a story of intense love, obsession, insecurity, and longing. The story begins in 1978 in San Francisco where Phoebe, who is haunted by the suicide death of her sister years earlier, attempts to "find" her sister by "following in her footsteps." Through the use of flashbacks, we are able to follow Phoebe on her path of discovery. The author's words are pure poetry, evoking images which are crystal clear; at times I simply had to sit back and catch my breath
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jennifer Egan�s The Invisible Circus reflects upon the tragedies of two sisters caused by the dreams of the 1960�s. Those living under its influence had a heightened desire to seek out something to embrace. The Invisible Circus takes place in the summer of 1978. Phoebe O�Conner, an 18 year old San Franciscan, is obsessively nostalgic about the memory of her older sister, Faith. Faith mysteriously died in Italy in 1970 while on a trip with her boyfriend, Wolf. Phoebe remembers Faith as a beautifully wild spirit who spent her life searching for the biggest thrill. That spirit was greatly influenced by a previous need to impress their father; she thrived off of making him happy. But when their father died, Faith�s wild personality continued on to live up to the ideals of the sixties.
Following a path navigated by Faith�s old postcards, Phoebe takes a trip throughout Europe in hopes of finding an answer to Faith�s end. She retraces Faith�s steps and finds herself unraveling a deeper truth about her sibling�s death, associated with her desperate need for freedom, spontaneity, but above all a need to impress those around her. Phoebe realizes that by hanging onto the memory of her sister, she is hindering her own life from moving onward.
Egan�s choice of words describes the sisters with powerful emotion that leaves you with a sense of the real tragic beauty of Phoebe�s journey. Her whole life, Phoebe has lived in the shadow of all Faith�s wild adventures, always trying to be more daring, but never succeeding in doing so. Phoebe does nothing but idolize Faith for the impression she gave of being the epitome of life on the edge. Egan narrates Phoebe�s thoughts with a poetic flow. The false image Phoebe has of someone she was too young to realistically know herself becomes increasingly more evident as the story progresses. The way that Egan describes the characters� traits is believable, the changes ever so subtle.
The Invisible Circus is truly an enjoyable read; it has a graceful style that compliments the heart-wrenching tale of a need to let go of past experiences and move on with life. Egan�s novel is successful in depicting the effect that the sixties had not only in the lives of its young followers, but also on their friends and families.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is one of the few books I have read that has a better second half than first half. The Europe part with the boyfriend is especially great. One of the best and most believable love scenes I have read. I would rate this a 10, but I read it a month or so ago and can't remember it all, so parts were kind of forgetable. She needs to write more books soon. I just read her book of short stories and didn't think they were as good as her novel
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 1997
Format: Paperback
the Invisible Circus is one of the best sister stories I've read, one of the best Europe story I read, one of the best 60's stories I read, one of the best 70's stories I read, one of the best love
stories I've read, one of the best coming of age stories I've read, one of the best stories I read.
A wonderful read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was engaging and nicely written, however the ending fell short (really short) of my expectations. I was also put off by the "Harlequin Romance-type" sequence - it was neverending and it's length didn't seem to add much to the story. I gave this book 3 stars but only because it kept me reading until the end. I had expected so much more...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Borrowing from another review, "Soar" is the ideal word for the effect Jennifer Egan's writing has had on me since I first read THE INVISIBLE CIRCUS. Whether in long novels or short magazine articles, some of her sentences are so exquisite that I can't go on to the next until I re-read the last. It's like savoring the first bite of an incredibly delicious food, and you take another bite just to re-experience the sheer pleasure before you try anything else on your plate. Or catching the scent of a gardenia or jasmine, then sniffing the fragrance again because it's such a heady experience. Her novels and short story collections in my library are underlined and highlighted throughout. Not only does her writing remind me of life, magnified, but the much more uncommon opposite effect occurs: life events remind me of specific descriptions of hers--now I see how rain "ribbons" down windows, or when my hair parts a new way and I recognize the "dull ache" from one of her books. I marvel at how skillfully she captures these human experiences that so rarely are brought to life through words as acutely--let alone as frequently--as Egan does. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Well, in that case Jennifer Egan's writing is positively electrifying! At least for me, and I'm heartened to know, clearly for many others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
While this isn't one of my favorite books, "The Invisible Circus" was interesting and well-written enough to help pass by a few of many restless summer afternoons. I loved the vivid European imagery and Phoebe's recollections of her charismatic older sister, Faith. Jennifer Egan does a wonderful job of surrounding Faith with mystery. As Phoebe hungers to learn more of her sister's last days, so will the reader beg to know the circumstances surrounding Faith's adventures and downfalls in Europe. I agree with another reviewer, though....there are a couple of wildly unbelievable coincidences within this book. Yet, the suspense will lead you past these mild flaws and into the realm of unforgettable characters and settings. This book is the perfect mental road trip!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
_Invisible Circus_ is a fast and powerful read, perfect for the beach. I was absorbed fully for the three or four days it took me to plow through it, reading every second I could and unable to put it down. But once it was over, I was a little disappointed by one thing: I really felt some of Phoebe's European experiences to be a little bit of a stretch, too many unsupportable coincidences. But the language is beautiful, Ms. Egan is a talented storyteller, and overall Phoebe's search for her sister's narrative is powerful and mesmerizing. Definately worth a read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great story about the possibilities of the 60s then the fall from novelty & innocence, told through Phoebe, the younger sister of Faith, the bright-eyed seeker for edge & wonder... Phoebe follows her sister's path (her sister died 10 yrs previous, maybe suicide) through Europe, trying to understand.

The author's lyrical language creates a dreaminess and beauty that has you hungering for revelation, but at the same time aware of the dangers when you want paradise too much.
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