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Orphans of the Carnival

Narrated by: Helen Johns
Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Summary

A life in the spotlight will keep anyone hidden.

Julia Pastrana is the singing and dancing marvel from Mexico, heralded on tours across 19th-century Europe as much for her talent as for her rather unusual appearance. Yet few can see past the thick hair that covers her: she is both the fascinating toast of a Governor's ball and the shunned, revolting, unnatural beast to be hidden from children and pregnant women.

But what is her wonderful and terrible link to Rose, collector of lost treasures in an attic room in modern-day South London? In this haunting tale of identity, love and independence, these two lives will connect in unforgettable ways.

©2016 Carol Birch (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"Orphans of the Carnival is a rich and wonderful book. Carol Birch can see a world in a grain of sand - and then furnish it for you, vividly and unforgettably." (M. R. Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts)

What listeners say about Orphans of the Carnival

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A remarkable novel..

I listened to this story over 14 hours, which is the length of the unabridged version on Audible, I agree that’s a remarkable length of time but, it must be said, I was never bored, and in fact, I eagerly looked forward to my listening periods, when in the company of narrator, Helen Johns, I entered Julia’s world. The narrator really gives this story an added dimension, her story telling skills are very good, and her ability to give each character their unique voice ensured that they all came truly alive. However, it was her interpretation of Julia which will stay with me for a very long time. She captured the horror and the degradation and the downright eccentricity of Julia’s world to perfection. I appreciate that the power of this remarkable story is largely down to the words that the author has so competently written, but for me, this narrator really gave the book its heart and soul.

Orphans of the Carnival is a remarkable novel and is definitely a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

2 people found this helpful

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Very absorbing and strange!

Like the character of Julia would be curious this book makes you curious for what comes next! its amazing that this book is broadly based on facts!!! A great listen. The narrator does a lovely job of giving each character their own voice and personality! And there are a lot so that's quite something!

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Good insight into attitudes of the period

The main story line was fascinating, especially as I know now that it was based on historical events, but the secondary (modern) plot line was irrelevant and annoying, with an awkward tie-up at the end. The narrator was great, with so many different accents that it was easy to follow who was talking

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Drawn out

Initially engaging and intriguing, the narrative soon becomes repetitive and long-winded as we are we are told over and over again how people react to the heroine's peculiar appearance and how she dances and sings and and travels... chapter after chapter sounds pretty much the same as the story inches along... and the parallel story, set in modern times is just as slow and drawn out and is taking an absolute age to show any connection other than a doll owned by both characters... I'm about three quarters of the way through and I'll finish it out of sheer stubbornness.The book could've used some tightening, condensing and stricter editing... there's a good story in here but a lot of padding. Fine performance by the reader, good range of voices.

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makes you think about prejudice

It was weird how it jumped about in places. The characters were interesting and there was a lot of pathos.

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A 'Must' read!

I loved this book. The narrator certainly brings Julia to life in this 'food for thought' book. It is so sad to think that people who were different in any way were paraded around in a 'Freak show' for all and sundry to stare at! Glad too that Julia has now found her rightful resting place back in the land of her birth. Thank you Carol Birch for another amazing book,

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From a time hopefully passed

This is captivating as well as grotesque and I almost gave up after Julia died. I'm glad I didn't