In 1938, Lena Papadopoulos, the wheelchair-bound daughter of an extraordinary headlining illusionist, must confront her doubts and dare to believe in the impossible?—?herself?—?when she is separated from everything she knows during World War II. Original. - (Baker & Taylor)
International Bestseller and #1 LibraryReads Pick
Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in this World War II debut about a magnificent travelling circus, a star-crossed romance, and one girl’s coming-of-age during the darkest of times.
“A powerful reminder that to live is not just to survive, but to be seen and known for ourselves.” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale
When all is lost, how do you find the courage to keep moving forward?
1938. Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the circus, even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Theo. Brilliant and curious, Lena—who uses a wheelchair after a childhood bout with polio—yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, her mind stronger than the limitations placed on her by society. Then her unconventional life takes an exciting turn when she rescues Alexandre, an orphan with his own secrets and a mysterious past.
As World War II escalates around them, their friendship blossoms into something deeper while Alexandre trains as the illusionist’s apprentice. But when Theo and Alexandre are arrested and made to perform in a town for Jews set up by the Nazis, Lena is separated from everything she knows. Forced to make her own way, Lena must confront her doubts and dare to believe in the impossible—herself. - (Penguin Putnam)
Amita Parikh was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and received an Honours BSc from the University of Toronto. When she's not writing, she works in the tech industry. The Circus Train is her first novel. - (Penguin Putnam)
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Parikh debuts with a fascinating story of a traveling circus in Europe during WWII. After illusionist Theo Papadopoulos's wife dies in childbirth in Greece, he raises their daughter. Lena, who uses a wheelchair after a case of polio, feels isolated as a preteen until she finds companionship with Alexandre Robichaud, an orphaned Jewish boy hiding in the circus's train as it crosses Amsterdam in 1938. By 1942, Lena and Alexandre's friendship has blossomed into romance. Then, circus owner Horace learns of Theo's plans to leave the circus to seek asylum for himself and Lena in the U.S. Enraged, Horace allows the S.S. into the train to capture Theo for hiding alleged fugitive Alexandre, leading to Theo and Alexandre's internment at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where they perform as illusionists. Without her father and the friendship of Alexandre, Lena leaves the circus and seeks her former governess Clara in hopes Clara will take her in. Parikh's extensive historical research adds authenticity to the lives of the circus performers as well as Lena's disability, and the characters' arcs highlight the ever-present dangers in WWII Europe and make palpable the strength of friendship. Fans of historical fiction will be drawn to this page-turner. Agent: Therese Coen, Hardman & Swainson. (Dec.)
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