Women of Illusion by Donnalee Frega
A Circus Family's History

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The lure of the circus that tempts every child has always seemed a world of never-ending fun. But Women of Illusion is a circus tale like none you've ever heard. Seldom do you come across insiders who have left the circus and are willing to tell their stories; Women of Illusion presents just such a tale. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with Betty Huber, the eighty-year-old matriarch of the Cirkus Brumbach, and painstaking research into the history and culture of the circus, Donnalee Frega narrates a fascinating story of one circus family, the Hubers. Just as the circus audience only sees the glitter and the smiles, the Huber family only exhibits a proud face. But there is a surprising reality underneath, covered by the perpetual re-creation of self and the manipulation of identity. Frega untangles these layers and guides us through the glamour and the adventures, but also reveals what no ticket-buyer ever sees: a hard life punctuated by wandering, violence, and disaster, sometimes fatal. Drawing insightful conclusions on performance, identity, and image, Women of Illusion offers us a rare insight into a unique cultural sphere.

About Donnalee Frega

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A visiting scholar in the Department of English at Duke University.
Published May 1, 2001 by St. Martin's Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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(At one point, when Betty is describing a particularly death-defying stunt, Frega even admits, "I am probably not the ideal recipient for these stories.") Still, it's worth the cover price to learn such intriguing facts as what Betty's "tummy money" was (the half dollar emergency fund she stashed...

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