The Spruiker’s Tale



In a run-down shack in a godforsaken town on the edge of the Gibson Desert an old circus family has come to rest. Tarcisius the 100 year-old father, once ringmaster of the Queen Pigmy Circus, lies dying on the verandah. The vindictive matriarch Magnolita Rosaria, famous in her youth as Soto the Flying Lady, and now so fat she cannot walk, rules their three sons. The oldest is a soldier, an arsonist and murderer, the second a hell-fire preacher, a lecher and a thief. The third has a daughter, Trinity, who inherits Magnolita Rosaria’s skills as an acrobat and sets the circus world alight. Her grandmother’s hatred knows no bounds…

With this baroque tale of family cruelty and revenge, bred in the circus ring, and told by a one-eyed spruiker with a parrot perched on his head, Catherine Rey appears on the Australian scene fully formed as an author, with a voice that is rich, extravagant, dark, and compelling in its intensity.


Print ISBN : 1-920882-07-3
pp : 262pp
April 2005

Catherine Rey lives in Perth, but The Spruiker’s Tale was originally written in French and published in Paris, where it received glowing reviews, and was shortlisted for the Prix Femina and the Prix Renaudot.

It has been translated into English by Andrew Riemer, author of the award-winning memoir Inside Outside, and chief book reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald.


Read the feature on The Spruiker’s Tale from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Age

Australian Women’s Book Review