I've already loved two Kimberly Duffy creations:
I'm excited anytime she releases a new book,
but when I discovered her new book takes us to the circus,
how could I resist?
The Weight of Air immerses us in the 1911 circus world, right in the midst of the modern circus's popularity. Aerialists and stunt performers were the movie stars of their day. Circuses regularly toured Europe and America, bringing dangerous feats and exotic animals to people of all ages, backgrounds, and economic levels.
Our heroine, Mabel MacGinnis, comes from a circus family. As Europe’s strongest woman, she performed beside her strongman father her entire life. But his sudden death reveals long-hidden family secrets. Mabel and her best friend, acrobat Jake Cunningham (a man with his own storied past), head off to America in pursuit of the truth.
Meanwhile, in America, aerialist Isabella Moreau has lived a 5-star career, but age is sneaking up on her, putting her act, her future, and even her life at risk. When she sees a young strongwoman perform, Isabella's European past coming rushing back. Can she redeem her past choices, and find a future beyond her own doubts and brokenness?
Mabel and Isabella's stories are filled with moving themes: mother-daughter bonds, the nature of depression, assumed gender roles, the power of forgiveness, and the definition of strength. Some of these themes, especially the storylines around depression, are extra poignant in this Edwardian setting, where mental health was so misunderstood.
But even with these heavy themes, this book is still filled with so much joy, love, and life!
I loved being in the world of the circus! My artist-heart loved every scene that dealt with rehearsals, audiences, and performances. Imagining the costumes, the horses, the acts, the tent ... As Anne of Green Gables would say, it gave great "scope for the imagination."
Be sure to read The Note from the Author at the end of the book, where Kimberly shares her personal inspiration, as well as her historical inspiration, for the story. Below is a photo of real-life strongwoman, Katie Sandwina. After reading the novel, it's worth spending some time reading up on Katie's story and scrolling through the amazing photos of her act!
Kimberly shares her writing and creative process on her site and Facebook page.
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