I was Hooked from Page One of this Delightful Novel!
During the Great Depression, Jacob, age 23, is in the middle of taking his veterinary medical exam and leaves, handing in a blank test. He wonders and ends up jumping on a train. Unknown at the time of his jumping, it is a circus train. He joins the circus as a veterinarian and the story really takes off from there!
The story shifts seamlessly back and forth from present day Jacob, age 93, living in a nursing home to the 23 year old Jacob. He tells of his colorful experiences with the circus and his two great loves, Marlena a performer and Rosie, an elephant. The human-animal bond shines through.
Sara Gruen really did her research for the circus lore of this amazing historical novel. The author’s note at the end of the book and the circus terminology that she uses, proves this. She portrayed this sad time in history with respect for all those who struggled.
The characters are larger than life with Gruen’s elegant prose. At times gut wrenching and at times laugh out loud funny this novel is a must read. This is the first time I have read anything by Sara Gruen and it won’t be the last.
If I could only own one book for the rest of my life, this would be it!