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Josser: The Secret Life of a Circus Girl

Nell Stroud

4 Reviews

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

* A widely praised memoir about a young woman who dared to follow her dream

JOSSER is the powerful and moving account of Oxford-educated Nell Stroud's life in the circus. It is also the story of the people of the circus: the trapeze artists, the clowns, the high-wire acts, the grooms, the llamas, the elephants - their commitment and expertise, their hard, marginalised, miraculous lives. Following a terrible riding accident which left her mother permanently brain-damaged, Nell ran away to the circus. What she found there was a life which became more real to her than the one she left behind. She found people who had sacrificed their lives for their art, who worked in all weathers, perfecting some of the most dramatic and beautiful acts ever seen. She found third-generation show-people who travelled around forgotten parts of Britain to bring their abstract, polished, multi-layered show to ever dwindling audiences. She found herself in an art form that soon, if we are not careful, we will lose. Whilst she has lived and worked among the circus people for several years, she is not one of them: she was not born in the circus. In their words she is a 'josser' a person in the circus from the outside world. This is her story.

'The circus does cast a spell over some people. I felt overwhelmed by it. The circus filled up existence and left room for nothing else. What was there to do

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Praise for Josser: The Secret Life of a Circus Girl

  • A dream book - THE BOOKSELLER

  • She did something we all dream of doing. Her book is a brave attempt to keep this dream alive - Dea Birkett

  • Above all Stroud has written an elegy for the circus and its traditions...We are lucky to have the record of this book - INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

  • JOSSER is a paean to the circus: an impassioned plea for understanding and tolerance of its performers, as well as an obsessive account of the daily hardships of life in the Big Top - TLS

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Nell Stroud

Nell Stroud was born in Oxford in 1973. She studied English Literature at the university before leaving to join the circus. This is her first book.

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