Normally I don’t get very much reading done in November, but I spent most of the month squeezing chapters of this book into my crazy schedule. I even allowed myself to read it before bed, and while I know many of you are probably avid pre-bed book lovers, I never read then. I’m not one of those people who likes to read until they fall asleep, mainly because I have never in my life fallen asleep reading. I didn’t even fall asleep reading in college when I was doing way too much on way too little sleep. It just doesn’t happen for me. My husband actually tried reading to me from a financial document he was looking over in bed the other night, and after he was done (and out like a light), I was completely wired.
Words do not relax me. Books are much too thrilling. Admittedly, I have the same problem with watching tv or movies. Some of my friends will nap with the television on (or even in the theatre!), but I can’t do it. No matter how tired or sick I might be, stories are exciting, and my brain will not allow me to miss a beat. Let me reassure you, Girl on a Wire did not put me to sleep. Not even a little bit. Every night I had to force myself to turn off the light and put away my kindle. Then I would lay in bed thinking about the story and the characters and how long it would take me to finish if I just kept reading through the night…
It was a vicious cycle. I only allowed it to continue because I didn’t have any other time to read, and Bond’s story was just that good. I’ve never been a huge fan of the traditional circus, but I absolutely love Cirque du Soleil and Cavalia (if you’re not aware, Cavalia is a beautiful horse show; I share their philosophy on training below because I generally do not approve of animals being forced to perform, but it truly was obvious during the show that the trainers adored their horses and treated them gently with love and respect). Bond manages to capture the purest, most exciting parts of those shows in her novel.
I was completely captivated by the young protagonist, a wire walker names Jules, and her antagonist/love interest Remy, a trapeze artist. They both come from old circus families with a sordid rivalry between them (the novel is based very loosely on Romeo and Juliet). The reader travels with them through one season of the circus, and I found myself desperately wishing to see their tricks for myself. Bond creates such an authentic experience of their lifestyle that I both wanted to reach the end of the story but also longed to continue living in their calloused, sparkling, death-defying world just a little longer.
The novel itself is a mystery, an untangling of old hurts on a backdrop of mind-boggling artistic and athletic feats. For me though, the most satisfying part was not the resolution of that mystery, but the world in which such a story could even exist. The stakes are inevitably high right from the start because each of her performers must constantly push the boundaries of safety and sanity in order to succeed. Even without subterfuge and regrets, every act holds the possibility of disaster, and Bond plays with that tension beautifully. She doesn’t have to overstate the obvious – that this could all end very sadly indeed – because it’s there already in each sharp intake of breath as we watch her balancing act unfold.
For more about Gwenda Bond, head here.
From Cavalia.net: Cavalia’s productions have made an indelible mark on the world of live entertainment with their one-of-a-kind homage to the age-old bond between human and horse. Our equine performers are the heart and soul of every Cavalia show. We are committed to nurturing them and prioritizing their comfort and well-being. The Cavalia approach is based on training methods designed to ensure the horses enjoy training with us and performing on stage. Trainers pay close attention to the horses to ensure that every request is adapted and respectful of what they are ready to offer. Our philosophy is rooted in patience, trust and deep-seated respect. This genuine sense of caring and authenticity is inevitably what resonates with our audiences.