True History of the Hula Hoop
written by Judith Lanigan
Picador | ISBN 9780330425070
Paperback – 297 pages
Member’s price: $27.00
A beguiling and utterly original debut novel about two women born centuries apart but joined by the spirit of adventure and a quest for true love.
Catherine is a hula-hooping performance artist, a talented and independent individual plying her trade on the international burlesque stage. Each year she tours the European festival circuit, delighting her audiences and honing her skills. But behind the glittering and bohemian façade, Catherine knows that security is hard won and that true love is elusive.
As she nears the middle of her life - admired but impoverished - she begins to question the nature of her vocation and the sacrifices women must make in order to succeed.
Columbina meanwhile is a feisty female clown and a principal in a 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte troupe. Commissioned to perform for the King of France, the troupe makes their way across a Europe held back by centuries of inequality and rocked by religious wars. As they near the city of Lyon, they are attacked by hooligans, only to be rescued by a group of marauding Huguenots with their own agenda...
Using all their ingenuity, the troupe must hatch a daring escape plan if they have any hope of survival, let alone reaching France. As Catherine and Columbina struggle to make sense of an increasingly nonsensical world - and to assert their rights as performers and women during times of profound change - their lives, as if by magic, seem to interact.