Synopses & Reviews
The lure of the circus tempts every child, but what's behind the glittering spectacle? Rarely do insiders reveal their personal lives. In Women of Illusion, Donnalee Frega presents the story of one proud circus family, the Hubers. Circus audiences are shown only sequins and smiles; the Hubers share tales of daring aerial exploits and individual courage. But Frega manages to discover a surprising reality of circus life as well: a perpetual reinvention and manipulation of personal identity. She reveals what no ticket-buyer ever sees: a hard life punctuated by uncertainty, wandering, and violence; a life that demands tremendous inner strength of those determined to find security, happiness, and love. With its insightful observations on performance and image-manipulation, circus mythology, and the art of storytelling, Women of Illusion offers us a rare glimpse of lives that continue after show time ends in the Big Top.
"Unfortunately, Frega...can't tell [this] story without constant moralizing and drawing comparisons to her own far more conventional life as an ex-academic. By the end of the book, Frega's nonstop hand-wringing has overwhelmed [the]deliciously wicked stories, as the author searches for ways to render [her subjects'] complexities less disturbing." Publishers Weekly
"That archaic fantasy machine that for generations has spun the circus into an adolescent and artistic French Foreign Legion for runaways and misfits continues to provide dramatic grist for authors, both popular and academic, who seek to explicate both its charms and its illusions....Frega's work is an inside-out treatment of the circus cosmos but here as told through the multigenerational story of the Hubers: Betty, Fritzi, and Bobby....Over a period of time, as the Hubers accept scholar and university professor Frega as a trusted chronicler, a lucid portrait of this singularly attractive and bitterly harsh world emerges." Library Journal
About the Author
Donnalee Frega is Visiting Scholar of English at Duke University.