The Illusionists

Rosie Thomas, Author
Rosie Thomas. Overlook, $27.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-4683-0990-4
Hardcover - 472 pages - 978-0-00-751201-0
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-00-751202-7
Hardcover - 978-1-4434-3624-3
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4434-3626-7
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Set in Victorian England, Thomas’s sprawling follow-up to The Kashmir Shawl combines several elements: a story of a theater company, a thriller, and, most successfully, a portrait of a woman trying to create an equal partnership with a man. Eliza Dunlop is working as an artists’ model when her suitor, Jasper, takes her to the Palmyra Theater, where she meets Devil Wix and the dwarf Carlo Boldoni who are working as illusionists. Wix is ambitious: he wants to own the theater and devises a plan that requires Carlo, Jasper, Eliza, and automaton-maker Heinrich Bayer to work together to swindle the crooked theater owner Jacko Grady. As the theater progresses, the partnership frays; a nearby murder, a kidnapping, and a ghost from Wix’s past add elements of horror and suspense. The heart of the book is Eliza’s long, slow attempt to not only marry Devil but to live in parity with him. Since she has no models for the relationship she wants, Thomas shows Eliza working to invent a new kind of life; a creation as novel for her time as the mechanical illusions at the Palmyra. (July)
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