I’ve had this one my shelf for quite some time and was looking forward to finally opening it up. Its volume was somewhat daunting, but I’ve taken on lengthier tomes before and somehow survived. I’ve admired John Irving for years and have read most of his earlier works. Well, I gave myself much more time than my typical one week and I did have a lot going on, however, I just couldn’t find a groove here and I’m still not sure if I’ve hit a reading wall and need a break or if this was just not the read I’d hoped it would be.
An orthopedic surgeon living in Toronto frequently returns to his birthplace in India where he has a fascination with the circus and especially with those achondroplastic members. The doctor writes screenplays, under an alias, in his spare time for his adopted son, cares for crippled children, uncovers a serial killer and reflects on his life and the significant events that have shaped him thus far. (No wonder it was 633 pages!)
Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, the titled “Son of the Circus” is a man without a home, never feeling comfortable in his birthplace of India nor in his primary residence in Toronto. He is a generous man willing to help those most in need and even those who just seem to show up at his doorstep. Always uncertain of his life’s choices, he wonders what others think and fails to see all the good he has done and continues to do. Though insecure, this is the type of man anyone could enjoy spending time with.
Inspector Dhar, the adopted son of the doctor, is a renowned movie star. He is somewhat aloof and seemingly disinterested and often assumes his professional persona rather than risk unmasking his true being. His sexuality is key to his insecurities and keeps him bottled up giving many the impression that he is shallow.
Nancy Patel, a hippie from Iowa is very happily married to the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Her early years in India were far from ideal and were spent with an abusive and manipulative man whose disappearance 20 years earlier led Nancy to her future husband and many years later to Dr. Daruwalla, Inspector Dhar and an unusual cast of characters. This was one tough broad who certainly overcame and saw things through.
My admiration for Mr. Irving goes back many years and his writing has been an inspiration for me so spending any time with him would be delightful. Perhaps he’d share some of his methods or some interesting tidbits about his life. I’m ever so curious about his fascination with physical injuries and deformities, but wouldn’t know how to broach that topic. Perhaps he’d begin at the ending and work backwards from there…
My rating for A Son of the Circus is a 6 out of 10.
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