Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 5:06 am.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 2:59 am.
This book begins with an old man; either 90 or 93. He can’t quite remember which. What he can remember, with vivid clarity, is his life as a young man, traveling the world with the woman he loves…
Jacob Jankowski’s parents die and leave him alone. Not quite knowing what to do, he ends up colliding with a traveling circus. When one of the employees takes him in, he decides to give it a go. He has absolutely no clue that this decision will change his life forever. He’s introduced to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and moves quickly through the ranks to become the show’s veterinarian.
He also meets August, the animal trainer, and Marlene (August’s wife and performer). There is a connection almost instantly between Jacob and Marlene. This is dangerous, because as the book unfolds, the reader learns that there’s something definitely off about her husband. What I love most about this book is that not a single part of it was boring. From the very first page until the very end, I was absolutely spellbound.
It’s not hard to connect with Gruen’s characters. You feel like you’re living Jacob’s life with him, and every great or small injustice to him just about breaks your heart. There were definitely some graphic scenes in this book, and some scenes that were difficult to stomach. In the end, though, justice is served. Another thing I love is that Gruen did massive amounts of research before writing, and a lot of the events that take place are greatly inspired by true events in the circus world.
Throughout the book, there are pictures from old circus archives that I thought were very interesting! The book covers Jankowski’s whole life and is immaculately written. 5 stars without a doubt; it’s a masterpiece. You will fall in love with some of the characters and you will hate some of them with a passion, but one thing’s for certain: this is a MUST READ!
Just for kicks, I’ll tell you who my favorite character was: Rosie the elephant!