10 September 2009

A True History of The Hula Hoop

by Judith Lanigan

Pan Macmillan Australia. Australian, Adult Other. Paperback rrp $29.99

At first glance this book appears to be about the history of the Hula Hoop. But in small print to the side are two words that give a different clue - “A NOVEL”. However, A True History of the Hula Hoop is not just a novel. It is a study in the history of street performers and the women who are part of that colourful life.

This book is about Catherine and Columbina. Both are performers. One performs with hoops, the other is a clown. Catherine’s story starts in Australia in 1993. Columbina’s story’s starts in Italy in 1572. Although centuries apart, through the wonderful telling of Lanigan, the two women’s lives are woven together to create a tapestry of performances and intrigue.

Catherine travels around Europe and Australia performing her acrobatic feats with hula hoops. As she gets older, and prone to injuries and loneliness, she takes stock of her life - how she has come to where she is and where she, a single woman, should be heading.

Columbina is travelling with an Italian commedia dell’arte troupe to perform for the King of France. But in the 1500’s it is unheard of for a woman to do such things. The troupe pass through towns who have never seen a woman perform and trouble soon finds Columbina. In one town she is deemed a witch and hunted through the streets only to be rescued by a man who has his own agenda. Soon Columbina and the troupe have to use their skills as performers to escape so they can continue on to France.

Throughout A True History of the Hula Hoop Lanigan has embedded snippets of facts about street performers, Hula Hoops and commedia troupes. Did you know that the Hula Hoop was first invented in Australia? This is a brilliant book and there is one fact about Hula Hoops I am determined to try for myself – I have just ordered my gold Hula Hoop online and am ready to “swing those hips”. For those who want to know more read Page 209!


No comments:

Post a Comment