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The Circus Train

On sale

6th December 2022

Price: £21.99

HWA Debut Crown Award, 2023

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Selected: Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781405551830

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‘An uplifting read and a welcome escape from our turbulent times’ GUARDIAN

‘A magical, vibrant parade of a novel about extraordinary people finding light in history’s darkest decades. Spellbinding’ ERIN KELLY

‘Fans of Lucina Riley will love this heartwarming novel. A story full of hope and bravery’ Nina Pottell, PRIMA

‘Enchanting’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘Compelling’ DAILY MAIL

Europe, 1938. Even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the World of Wonders – a travelling circus that traverses the continent in a luxury steam engine. Brilliant and curious, Lena yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, despite the limitations she feels in her wheelchair. But when a young French orphan, Alexandre, comes aboard the circus train, Lena’s life is infused with magic and wonder for the first time.

But outside the bright lights of the circus, darkness is descending on Europe. War is about to shatter Lena’s world, and take away everything she holds dear. And to recover what she has lost, Lena will have to believe in the impossible.

A must-read for fans of Water for Elephants, The Circus Train will take readers on a heart-wrenching two-decade journey across a continent in which great beauty and unimaginable horror live side by side.


Reader Review (5 stars)


Pam Jenoff


Reader Review (5 stars)


Lorelei Savaryn


Reader Review (5 stars)


Immersive and intricately plotted, this novel brings to life the precarious, colorful world of circus performance in prewar Europe, where nothing is as it seems, danger lurks around every corner, and success is a matter of confidence, luck, and risk. Lena, Alexandre, and Theo are lovable characters, each backed by three-dimensional backstories that expand and intersect satisfyingly as the novel progresses. . . Parikh has created a carefully researched historical debut whose bighearted, sensitive protagonist makes the reader's emotional journey well worth it. Lively and richly detailed.
Library Journal
[A] multilevel story of friendship, love, and survival spanning the World War II era. . . [Parikh's] research into circuses, concentration camps, and disability all provide a keen historical realism to her characters and events. Indeed, it is Parikh's sensitive eye toward the reality of living with polio in the 1930s to 1950s that is the real heart of this romantic tale.
Magic, love, destiny, and illusion combine with the glitter of 20th century circus life and the heartbreak of war in The Circus Train, Amita Parikh's masterful first novel . . .. A powerful tale of hope in the face of tragedy and great love in the face of staggering loss. An extraordinary debut.
Publisher's Weekly
Fascinating. . . Parikh's extensive historical research adds authenticity to the lives of the circus performers as well as Lena's disability, and the characters' arcs highlight the ever-present dangers in WWII Europe and make palpable the strength of friendship. Fans of historical fiction will be drawn to this page-turner
A spellbinding and life affirming novel, The Circus Train captivates from the very first page
Eithne Farry, MAIL ON SUNDAY
An enchanting story of love, loss and survival in a world wrecked by war
Alexandra Bell, author of THE WINTER GARDEN
I very much enjoyed The Circus Train
Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of The Shape of Family
Sit back and enjoy as this magical story transports you through war-torn Europe, demonstrating how family can be found in the most unconventional ways.
Pam Jenoff, author of THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR
Set against the vivid and original backdrop of a traveling circus in World War II Europe, The Circus Train is . . . a powerful reminder that to live is not just to survive, but to be seen and known for ourselves
Nina Pottell, PRIMA
Lucinda Riley fans will love this heartwarming novel . . . a story full of hope and bravery
The Circus Train is a cinematic tale, languorously crafted to immerse readers into the world of magic and subterfuge. Parikh is a natural storyteller - her lines imbue the novel with a poetic authenticity and legitimacy that we saw in Sara Gruen's novel Water for Elephants and, to some extent, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.
Jeanette Lynes, author of 'The Small Things that End the World'
The Circus Train is a lush, luminous story of outsiders, those disadvantaged by accidents of birth or menacing political regimes. Amita Parikh's prose shimmers; get ready to be immersed in its rich textures and breathtaking illusions - fire jugglers, mermaid-acrobats, and more. But the real magic is human connection, a sense of belonging, self-fulfillment. I cheered until the final page for Parikh's characters who strive to beat the odds in a world of turmoil, characters drawn with great love by their creator, in this novel so generous in scope and heart.
Polly Crosby, author of THE ILLUSTRATED CHILD
Stunning . . . The Circus Train conjures up the glittering story of Lena, a young, disabled woman in a travelling circus. In the face of terrible adversity, she is determined not just to survive, but to thrive.
Carol Windley, author of 'Midnight Train to Prague'
A spellbinding tale of illusions, family secrets, courage, and devotion, as a circus train tours European cities under threat of war and persecution. Amita Parikh's skills as a storyteller will enthrall the reader. In Lena Papadopoulos she has created an irresistible and memorable young heroine.
Fanny Blake, DAILY MAIL
Parikh's storytelling skills evoke the world of duplicity and desperation lying behind the scenes of circus dazzle. Thorough research adds a further note of welcome authenticity. A compelling story of love, loss, betrayal and deceit overshadowed by the threat of World War II.
Ellen Keith, bestselling author of 'The Dutch Wife'
The Circus Train is a dazzling and delightful debut. Amita Parikh plunges us into a mesmerizing tale of colourful acts and characters, who must elicit truth from illusion as they face dark forces and seek out their places in a changing world. I thoroughly enjoyed this read
Louise Morrish, author of OPERATION MOONLIGHT
Step onto The Circus Train and prepare for a fantastical journey back in time, to another world with vibrant characters that leap from the page. I read The Circus Train in just two sittings, immersed in Lena's world, fascinated by the historical details that the author cleverly weaves through the plot. Highly recommended if you love historical fiction with a touch of heart-warming and magical romance, or if you crave a huge dose of adventure.
Heidi Swain, Sunday Times bestselling author of THE WINTER GARDEN
Utterly absorbing
Glynis Peters, author of THE SECRET ORPHAN
A poignant story of a young woman's strive for independence, overcoming disability, the atrocities of WWII, and betrayal. Heartbreak, romance and love filter throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed the ending offering hope
Erin Kelly, author of HE SAID SHE SAID
A magical, vibrant parade of a novel about extraordinary people finding light in history's darkest decades. Spellbinding stuff
Sarah Morgan, author of SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN
Absorbing and satisfying
Emma Styles, author of NO COUNTRY FOR GIRLS
The Circus Train is an epic, beautifully researched, heart-in-mouth adventure with magic on every page. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Lena, Theo and Alexandre's world.
Lucy Popescu, GUARDIAN
Impeccably researched . . .The Circus Train is unashamedly romantic, but Parikh is never mawkish. Lena is an intelligent, feisty heroine and her rite of passage is compelling. In the end, this is an uplifting read and a welcome escape from our turbulent times.
Intricately plotted with a rich cast of characters, The Circus Train is a compelling story of magic and survival against the odds.
A gorgeous debut, full of wonder, hope and heartbreak
Sophie Anderson, author of THE THIEF WHO SANG STORMS
I spent a wonder-filled afternoon immersed in The Circus Train. Sweeping and captivating historical fiction.
Stacey Thomas, author of THE REVELS
One of my favourite books of the year . . . a beautiful novel
Lorelei Savaryn, author of THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS
I fell head and heart into the pages of The Circus Train. The triumphant spirit of the characters shines brightly as they navigate the extravagance of the World of Wonders circus and a challenging historical landscape. This is a book readers will carry with them, in the best of ways, for a long time to come