Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling + Guest Blog Post (Children's, 10 years +, 9/10)

15th February 2013, Curious Fox
224 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Summary from Curious Fox

No one performs on the circus trapeze like sixteen-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, as a cat burglar and jewel thief. Forced by the evil circus owner Gustave to attempt the theft of one of the world's most valuable diamonds, Remy thinks it will be just another heist, but when she meets determined young detective Thaddeus Rec, her life changes forever.

Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Remy that he needs to save?

Nayuleska's thoughts

At the moment I'm enjoying books where the heroine has an active skill that they practice and use throughout the story. Remy's skill is used and abused by some people. I felt so bad for her because she had to be a criminal. It made her escaping Gustave's grasp a must. The thing is, her life outside the circus became more perilous, and in a way more rewarding when she helped people, than I'd imagined it could. Remy is made of tough stuff, both her skills as a trapeze artist, her quick thinking, and also help from the new friends she makes all help her in this 9/10 read adventure. Occasionally there were parts where I got a bit bored, but I was ill while reading this so that might have something to do with it.

You can find out more on Sharon's blog.

Suggested read

For another adventure involving the circus check out The 13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison

It is with great pleasure that I can introduce Sharon, who is going to talk about trapeze artists and why she chose one for her heroine.


I’ve always been fascinated by aerial performers like trapeze artists and high-wire walkers. Maybe it has something to do with my love of flying (one of my dreams is to get my light-aircraft licence) and of seeing the Earth from the air, or maybe it’s just the daring of it – the death-defying nature of doing something that humans really shouldn’t be doing. So, when I decided to write about a character that lived and worked in a circus, she was always going to be an aerial performer. Beyond that, I thought it made sense that a trapeze artist would make a great jewel thief – fearless, agile, and quick-thinking. The perfect cat-burglar!

There had been female high-wire walkers since as far back as the 1600s, but the art of the trapeze actually wasn’t invented until the mid-1800s. In 1859, the French gymnast Jules Lèotard (yes, it is named after him!) developed an act where he jumped from one trapeze to another, and the rest, as they say, is history. What I found really interesting when I started reading about female trapeze artists of the period is that they were often also ‘strong women’ who didn’t just fly on the trapeze, but also lifted weights or performed other feats requiring unusual strength. Take, for example, Leona Dare (real name Susan Adeline Stuart), whose speciality was her ‘iron bite’, wherein she would hang from a trapeze by only her teeth. 
In 1872, she performed this feat while dangling from a hot air balloon (presumably upside-down) and, mid-flight, lifted her husband from the ground by the waistband of his trousers, again with only her mouth…

I suppose it makes sense that such women would be in possession of a strength that at the time would probably have seemed completely out of place for a female. Swinging through the air might look easy, but it requires huge stamina. I couldn’t even to manage two chin-ups, but what these women were accomplishing amounted to a whole string of them, with added somersaults. There were also child trapeze artists, the most famous being ‘El Nino Farini’ (real name Sam Wasgate), an American orphan who had been raised as the son of Guillermo Antonio Farini, himself famed for his work on the high wire. By the age of ten, El Nino was able to swing from a trapeze by his neck while playing a drum at the same time. Those are the kind of lessons I would have loved to have had when I was his age.

I don’t know if there were any trapeze artists of the period who were also trick riders, as Rémy is. I’m sure there must have been. To be absolutely honest, though, most of what Rémy does is straight out of my imagination rather than as a result of any proper research. I’d like to imagine that she could have really existed, and that if she had and I had lived at the same time, we would have been mates. Although I doubt it, somehow… she’s way too cool for me! 

Wow, I didn't know the origins of a leotard! Thank you Sharon for an insight into your noel. I'm pretty sure Remy would have loved to meet you! 


DMS said...

I didn't know th origin og the leotard either! This sounnds like a fascinating book. Great cover! LOVE IT!

Nayuleska said...

Go read it! It's as good as it sounds.