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Dramatic,
Insightful,
Adventurous

3 reviews

The Life She Was Given
by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: 2017-07-25
Paperback : 304 pages
9 members reading this now
31 clubs reading this now
0 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 3 members
A GREAT GROUP READS Selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month 

GOODREADS Best of the Month

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets—beginning in the poignant, lurid ...
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Introduction

A GREAT GROUP READS Selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month 

GOODREADS Best of the Month

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets—beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s.


On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

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by Byrnes1993 (see profile) 08/22/19

 
by kcrial (see profile) 01/25/19

 
  "Beautiful story"by Sescilj (see profile) 03/24/18

Very eye opening story of that time era

 
  "If only it ended 50 pages earlier"by hollyschroeder (see profile) 03/02/18

Our club was enjoying this book until the last segment, one part of which was supremely depressing and the other was extraordinarily convenient. We don't need a happy ending but at least something redeeming?... (read more)

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