The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland

The Palace of Curiosities

Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps...and when Eve is born, the story goes, she didn't cry - she meowed and licked her paws. When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the...

Details The Palace of Curiosities

TitleThe Palace of Curiosities
Release DateMar 28th, 2013
PublisherHarper Collins
GenreFantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Magical Realism

Reviews The Palace of Curiosities

  • Mieneke
    Hot on the heels of another book with a Victorian circus-esque flavour, I got to read an early ARC for The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland. While it is a debut novel, Garland is an award-winning author in other disciplines and it definitely shows in her first long-form offering. It's a stunning piece of work, with strong themes of identity, acceptance of the Other, and a touchingly unique love story between two fabulous main characters. I ...
  • Blair
    In Victorian London, a girl named Eve is born covered in hair, a coat she comes to think of as her fur. Unloved by her mother and mocked by strangers, she is swept off her feet by the avaricious Josiah Arroner, who fills her with hopes of romance but leaves her trapped in a loveless - and sexless - marriage. Instead, he cruelly parades her as 'the Lion-Faced Girl', the central attraction of his 'Unique and Genuine Anatomical Marvels', a variety p...
  • Renae (Romantic Parvenu)
    Magical realism is always a strange genre; you don’t always know what you’re going to get. In The Palace of Curiosities, a novel about performers in a Victorian freak show, I think I got a little more than I wanted. Garland offers readers a potentially charming romance between two misfits, told in rich, evocative prose…but also manages to be unexpectedly gruesome. I finished the novel feeling that I’d just read a very beautiful book that ...
  • Sanaa
    [2.5 Stars] Wow. I really disliked this book which is such a shame because it had such potential. The two main characters, Eve and Abel, were just so... Well... Boring? Abel was interesting during the first part of the book but Eve was boring all the way through. The story was predictable and the entire book just felt like it fell flat. The one thing it had going for it was that the writing was quite lyrical and I enjoyed how unnerving and weird ...
  • Cat
    It was the cover that captured my attention. I admit it. And then I thought I was picking up a book with a story on the lines of Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus which I truly liked. Liked a lot. I guess it is a mistake to choose a book by its cover, because it may not live to our expectations. Or to the beauty of the cover.This means that, as much as I liked the cover of this The Palace of Curiosities, I couldn't find any delight in the story w...
  • Heather
    I listened to the audiobook of this and was unfortunately disappointed. I thought the narration by Jane Copland was very good but the story was let down by poor characters and a completely bizarre ending which didn't fit with the feel of the rest of the book. This book tells the story of Eve and Abel who are both performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities. It is written with two separate narrations which worked well to tell th...
  • Teresa
    This is a promising debut novel which will appeal to fans of quirky fiction peppered with a dash of magical realism. Alternate chapters tell the stories of Abel, the Flayed Man and Eve, the Lion Faced Girl whose lives intertwine when they both perform in Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities. Estranged from "normal" society, they share a basic human need for acceptance and love.Their story is told in the present tense, similar to The Night Circu...
  • Anne
    This wonderful debut novel was way outside my usual comfort zone, but I found it mesmerising. The writing is wonderful, and I’ve spent the last day living in Josiah Arroner’s Palace of Curiosities with Abel, the Flayed Man and Eve, the Lion Faced Girl. At the start, I thought the present tense telling would be difficult – it’s a great tribute to the author’s mastery of her craft that I stopped being aware of it very quickly, and it only...
  • Elizabeth Judd Taylor
    Probably a 4.5, but I enjoyed it so much I'm going to round up rather than down.This is a dark, sometimes violent, yet ultimately uplifting book about 2 "freaks"--one a hairy lion-faced lady, and the other a confused, forgetful man who cannot die and fears the memories that haunt his dreams. This is not the stuff of happy fairy tales, but rather the story of 2 outsiders who come to value and exult in their otherness. I loved the fact that the lio...
  • Dan Sumption
    I must admit, I came to this novel with low expectations: comparisons with Angela Carter left me expecting some steampunk pastiche of Nights At The Circus, or an inferior version of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love. I was wrong though. Initially, the book won me over with the cleverness of its writing. It's extremely easy to read, but constantly carries the reader's mind ahead of the story with subliminal prompts. Visceral with pungent recurring themes...
  • Marjorie Newson
    This was a very interesting story and I did like the main characters only I wished that it hadn't ended as abruptly as it did. I suppose I was only being greedy. I would recommend.
  • Heather
    In some ways a very beautiful book, but at the same time...for all its eloquence and what not, it was a bloody boring book.
  • Cheryl
    This was a book like few other. I would never have found this on my own but I am fortunate enough to have great friends who keep an eye out for books like this. If you have read The Night Circus, The Golem and the Jinni, The Particular Sadness of Lemoncake, Like Water For Chocolate, or The Museum of Extraordinary Things and loved any of these books then the rest of them are all for you. They all defy description and need to be experienced to know...
  • Amanda Beverly
    Loved loved loved loved loved this book! I discovered it in the sales room in a bookshop in Bath, England. Cost me only 1 pound coin! I spent every moment inhaling this book and it finished by the time my plane was leaving Heathrow to head home. It reminded me show much of The Night Circus with elements of Sarah Waters! If you ever come across this book, READ IT!
  • Leah
    *Received in exchange for an honest review**Thank you, Harper Collins*If you blend in Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop, Sarah Waters' Fingersmith and Barbara Chase-Riboud's Hottentot Venus the result would be The Palace of Curiosities. A mystical and entrancing novel which explores the Other within society, it is definitely well worth a read. It's once again another of those novels that would be fascinating to study. The exploration of what it m...
  • Aliss
    The Palace of Curiosities – I was really looking forward to this book knowing that it had won the esteemed Myslexia women’s writing competition which had been judged by Sarah Waters. The original title ‘The Beast in all her loveliness’ sounded good and fitting for one of the two protagonists, Eve, the ‘lion faced woman.’ However the final agreed title ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ sounded even better and would seemingly encompass th...
  • Linda Lipko
    Set in Victorian England where life is cold and cruel for the poor and different, this is a story of hope and fortitude. Against all incredible odds, is the fortitude to live and love.Excellently written, Garland takes the reader to the seemly underbelly of England. Eve is born with the very unique deformity of a lion-faced girl. With paws for hands and abundant fur, she is found by Josiah Arroner. In love with the concept of love and normalcy, E...
  • Joey Woolfardis
    I think if I didn't have approximately 126 books in piles in my room to read I might have given this more time, but I really couldn't get behind it. The writing was quite good, and it held me briefly, but there were turns off phrases that put me off, and random words that turned up out of the blue: flowing sentences that were abruptly ruptured by "titties" and the inability to call it a penis, or a vagina, or sex. Also the idea that a foetus, not...
  • James
    Such a beautifully written book! I highly recommend reading it, especially if you're a fan of Erin Morgenstern's 'The Night Circus'.The way the writer uses language in this book is just beautiful! She is a master and I can't wait to see more from her. A very visceral and engrossingly descriptive read!
  • Ella
    Really loved this book. I could not put it down, it had that weird and wonderful supernatural quality that completely enthralled me. Would give it 5 stars, but some of it was a bit too graphic and gory.
  • Jessica FeministUK
    I found this book beautiful and horrifying in equal measure. Books that move me like this usually always get a high rating. The writing has to be something quite special to make me feel so deeply. There are parts of this book that are so visceral they actually turned my stomach and made me wince in discomfort. Yet some parts are so beautifully descriptive (particularly those about eve) that I could almost touch and smell fur and carnivals and blo...
  • Rebecca
    I wanted to recommend this book to everyone I knew after reading only the first few chapters. What an amazing start - captivating, interesting, unique and well written! It had a dreamy quality to the narrative that was unparalleled in most books I've read recently. Then came the last 1/4 of the book.... uh. Hasty. Self indulgent. Rambling. Strange and disjointed. Was that the point? Maybe. It left me less than enthralled and that is why the three...
  • Jenny
    Set in Victorian London, The Palace of Curiosities is a magical realist story, telling the tales of Eve and Abel, performers in Josiah Arroner’s Palace of Curiosities. As The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, the two narrators live to the wills and whims of Eve’s abusive husband, earning him a fortune as central subjects of his freak show. The story is told from both their points of view, both in the form of first-person narrative, and thei...
  • Liz
    2.5 starsThere were things that I did enjoy about this book: I think the setting is cool and I think it is quite a nice story, but overall I thought it was just okay. I found the elements of the story and particularly most of the characters overly simplistic, which irritated me, as most of them were quite two dimensional and seemed like caricatures ie. the villain who is all bad. Complex characters are probably one of my favourite things about bo...
  • Seren
    Very unusual book. Wasn't something I'd read again but I was intrigued enough by the writing and the themes that I wanted to finish it. Some parts were quite confronting to read but I liked the way the author explored the concepts of individuality and being proud of who you are, even when you are different and the world shuns you. Eve was quite a heart-warming character and I really felt for her. I'm glad it had a mostly happy ending.
  • Caitlyn Mearns
    3.5 This book has all the elements I love: beautiful writing, thoughtful elements, broken characters... At times I didn’t feel like there was too much going on, like - perhaps - a focus on a few themes or elements would have sufficed. That said, I deeply enjoyed this novel. It was moving, unique and haunting. An amazing debut!
  • Diane
    An easy to read and fun tale in the vein of The Night Circus and Miss Peregrine stories. I found the descriptions of Eve's hair distracting, as it didn't match the "Lion-faced" that was in my head. Still, not enough to prevent simple enjoyment. I really liked Abel though. His character is thought-provoking. Who are we without our memories? And so on.
  • Carmilla Voiez
    A magical tale about extraordinary people. It is set during the Victorian era in a city filled to the brim with violence. But within this world a love story develops between two misfits searching for acceptance and understanding. Garland's prose is frequently poetic and the bisexuality of its protagonists warms my heart and makes a refreshing change to the hetero norm.
  • Jackie Raihl
    While the characters were interesting, I wasn’t really interested in the story itself. And I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment as well, as I felt it needed more.