It is 1978, eight years after Phoebe O’Connor’s elder sister Faith died mysteriously in Italy while travelling in Europe. Phoebe is eighteen, just graduated from high school in San Francisco and desperate to be exactly like her sister. Jennifer Egan’s first novel, The Invisible Circus, charts Phoebe’s emotional journey, from childhood to womanhood, through the literal journey she undertakes when she follows her sister’s European itinerary.
The first ten years of Phoebe’s life are overshadowed by her father’s obsessive favouritism for Faith’s eccentric wildness; after Faith’s death, life in the present is eclipsed by life in the past. Finally, a couple of unconnected events conspire to send her, in a childish sulk, to travel the cities