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12 Reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Maze" really exists, April 16 2001
By 
I loved this book, and with some effort I was able to track down a copy of "A Maze in the Heart of the Castle". Yes, the book really does exist, and Dorothy Gilman did write it. It is now out of print, but most public libraries will have a copy, and it's worth the effort to track it down. It is a children's book, so look in that section. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close to my heart, March 13 2001
By A Customer
I have a hardback of this novel and read it about every 14 months. I remember when I first read the novel, I truly believed in the existence of the "book within the book" and was disappointed when I realized this was a device. It sure hooked me. All of us have experienced some of Amelia's horror in the world. We all know what it is like when you forget you are on a tightrope, and look down! This would be a compelling film. The right screenplay could make this exciting, touching, and scary. Imagine the possibilities for the female lead! Please, Dorothy Gilman, write a screenplay.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most original plot in all my years of reading., Aug. 1 2012
By 
Carolyn (Manitoba) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This is the most original plot in all my years reading. It led a chase for a related novel; hard to come by and worth the hunt! Amelia bought an antique store and found a note inside an instrument. Someone expected to be killed in a cover-up! If the note were real, it bore no date and only a first name. What would you do?

Although it took time to synch with this protagonist, the tremendously unique adventure is memorable. Its phases pick up pace. An unusual scenario carrying into real life is Amelia's favourite book 'within the book', frequently mentioned. It appears "The Maze In The Heart Of The Castle" was a fabricated title. However Dorothy Gilman composed the whole fantasy story in 1983! It is as if it created a following before it existed! Also a parallel, it has become a rare, out-of-print collectible like in the story.

"The Tightrope Walker" is unrelated to the author's famous, very long "Mrs. Pollifax" series beginning in 1966. Odd I haven't read those but am a fan of these deviations. I'm sorry Ms. Gilman died February of this year. Her imaginative legacy is immune to shelf life!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Discovery!, May 5 2002
By 
Butterfly (Anywhere, USA) - See all my reviews
In a story that seems right out of Dorothy Gilman's imagination, I found this story in a musty suitcase in my parents' attic at the age of 12. It was in a book of Readers' Digest Abridged books for 1979. Also included were 2 very excellent stories and one pretty good one (excellent: Hungry as the Sea, Flesh and Spirit; pretty good: The Passing Bells). I loved the story from the moment I read the opening words. This is an anomaly for me. Usually it takes me time to get into the rhythm and flow of just about any book I read (the only other notable exception is Like Water for Chocolate, which is positively delicious). This book grabbed me from the instant I started reading it and I couldn't put it down, literally, till the surprise ending.
I especially love the characterization of Amelia. Here is this shy, rather mousy girl who doesn't seem like much of anything. Then suddenly she finds herself drawn into a mystery after finding a note from a woman who is sure she will be murdered soon. Quite the opposite of her portrayal at the beginning of the book, Amelia soon proves to readers and to herself that she is quite extraordinary. We realize she is resourceful, intuitive, and intelligent. In fact it is only from this investigation of a murder plot that Amelia really grows up from the stunted emotional state she has been living in since her mother's suicide. Plus reading the book in the true unabridged form is wonderful. I always felt that reading abridged books is a bit like eating dehydrated foods. You're made to think that you've lost nothing but the taste really suffers.
So I'd recommend this book to anyone, mystery aficianado or not. It's gripping, intelligent, and actually funny. Now I'm sixteen and though I've outgrown a lot of other things..., I still love this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty Little Bonbon of a Mystery Book, Jan. 23 2002
By 
curlygrl (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This is tasty little mystery story. It lasts for a short 223 pages and yet it manages to pack in a surprising amount of character development and action between its covers.
The heroine, Amelia Jones, is an endearing young woman taking her first real steps out into the world. Amelia impulsively purchases the Ebbtide Shop, a musty antique store stocked with junk and marvelous finds. She decides to put aside one item, a hurdy-gurdy (or hand organ box), as a furnishing for her upstairs apartment. When the hurdy-gurdy mysteriously stops playing music, Amelia opens the box and discovers a desperate note written on faded paper. The message begins with "They are going to kill me soon..." and ends with "...my name is Hannah." Amelia believes that the note is likely genuine. When questions about Hannah's fate begin to consume her, Amelia ventures further out into the world on a quest to find out the truth. Along the way, she meets many interesting people and becomes involved in a variety of unusual circumstances. The plot is a charming mix of mysterious happenings and coming-of-age realizations that make the reader vitally interested in Amelia's story and how it intertwines with Hannah's.
Though this book is shorter than I usually read, I highly recommend it. I think that it is particularly ideal for anyone wishing to read poolside or during their lunchbreak. The interesting storyline and clean writing style make it easy to pick up again after taking a nap or experiencing one of life's other interruptions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story...., Aug. 21 2000
By 
Karen Bierman Hirsh (Greenwich, CT) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Dorothy Gilman has done it again. She is most well known for her Mrs. Pollifax series which I have never read but her stand alone mysteries are excellent. The Tightrope Walker is a wonderful novel - the characters are well drawn and the plot really pulls you in.
This is the story of an introverted young woman, Amelia Jones, who finds a terrifying and mysterious note about a possible murder in a hurdy gurdy (those stand up music boxes that you usually see a monkey with a hat attached to...). This note intrigues her enough to try to find out who wrote it as well as the well being of the writer.
This leads Amelia on a journey through time as well as place. Through this search Amelia meets many interesting people - from a stage actor in New York to a handwriting analyst in her home town of Trafton - Amelia sees it all and learns to love in the process. Tightrope Walker is also a story within a story as Amelia constantly refers back to her favorite childhood book, "The Maze in the Heart of the Castle" which I would love to read (much as dlch3@juno.com would).
Will Amelia find out who the mysterious author of the note is and what ever became of her? You will have to read this wonderful book to find out and if you are lucky - you will discover a great writer along the way.
If you like Tightrope Walker - you should also Read Gilman's "Thale's Folly" and "The Clairvoyant Countess" - they all show the same wonderful traits - fully drawn and intriguing characters who you want to get to know better and an interesting and well written plot that you wish would never end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorites., Dec 17 2003
I love this book so much I bought a first editon copy. It is the quintessential quirky mystery with lots of fun characters and an enjoyable mystery plot. I read it about once a year. Even if you don't normally pick up a novel this short, give it a try, you'll enjoy it!
My second favorite of D. Gilman's is the first Mrs. Pollifax novel, I think it's the Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty Little Bonbon of a Mystery Book, Jan. 23 2002
By 
curlygrl (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This is tasty little mystery story. It lasts for a short 223 pages and yet it manages to pack in a surprising amount of character development and action between its covers.
The heroine, Amelia Jones, is an endearing young woman taking her first real steps out into the world. Amelia impulsively purchases the Ebbtide Shop, a musty antique store stocked with junk and marvelous finds. She decides to put aside one item, a hurdy-gurdy (or hand organ box), as a furnishing for her upstairs apartment. When the hurdy-gurdy mysteriously stops playing music, Amelia opens the box and discovers a desperate note written on faded paper. The message begins with "They are going to kill me soon..." and ends with "...my name is Hannah." Amelia believes that the note is likely genuine. When questions about Hannah's fate begin to consume her, Amelia ventures further out into the world on a quest to find out the truth. Along the way, she meets many interesting people and becomes involved in a variety of unusual circumstances. The plot is a charming mix of mysterious happenings and coming-of-age realizations that make the reader vitally interested in Amelia's story and how it intertwines with Hannah's.
Though this book is shorter than I usually read, I highly recommend it. I think that it is particularly ideal for anyone wishing to read poolside or during their lunchbreak, because the storyline is always interesting and easy to get back into should life interrupt one's reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, July 29 2001
By 
Sophia (the Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
Although "The Tightrope Walker" succeeds very well as a straight mystery, the message it conveys is far beyond that. It tells the story of Amelia Jones, an introverted, somewhat sad young woman, who discovers an unsolved murder, and embarks upon a quest to discover what really happened.
As Amelia searches for the truth, she meets some very interesting characters, and finds out some very poignant truths about herself. A wonderful story. I only wish that Ms. Gilman would write "In the Land of the Golden Warriors" to go along with "The Maze in the Heart of the Castle."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crafted, not just written, suspense., March 14 2000
By A Customer
Gilman can write. Her protagonist, Amelia Jones, is a real person, with a history beyond the front cover of the book. That history is revealed slowly, in fact Amelia doesn't realise how much is revealed, during the course of the story; gradually the reader is drawn into her life as much as her search for a past murder, victim, and murderer(s), until knowing that Amelia is growing and maturing greatly is perhaps more important than knowing that the evil ones will be brought to justice. The only downside to the book is that there is a simply wonderful book "The Maze in the Heart of the Castle" central to both the plot and Amelia's character; i want to read that book, but Gilman invented it and its sequel without writing them. Very unfair of her, i thought.
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Tightrope Walker
Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman (Hardcover - May 1979)
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