Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Trapeze Act' by Libby Angel

An epigraph from Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected lectures (2012) sets the tone of Libby Angel’s novel, The Trapeze Act ‘what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?’ This book is composed of fragments, which, taken together, capture the desire for a complete understanding of history and the impossibility of satisfying that desire.

A well-written and entertaining début, The Trapeze Act is narrated by Loretta Lord and set in an unnamed southern Australian city – one proud of its free-settler establishment and, by the late 1960s, home to the highest murder rate in the country. The novel moves across time and space, shifting between Loretta’s memories of her trapeze- artist mother, with her exuberant accounts of the Dutch Rodzirkus; her barrister father and the notorious murder cases by which he made his fame and fortune; and the found stories of her great-great-great-grandparents, who in 1858 emigrated to the colonies in search of elephants and their ivory.

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Published in April 2017, no. 390

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