Synopsis (from Amazon, edited by me)
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town.
Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.
I got through this book more quickly that I expected to, and am kind of disappointed that I can’t read it anymore (well I suppose I could start again, but that’s not the same). I really enjoyed it, I can’t say I knew anything much about the circus before and it was really interested to read about the kind of things the audiences could and couldn’t see. I found some of the descriptions really gave me a strong image of what things were like. I found the scenes in the nursing home really entertaining, and the contrast between that and the scenes at the theatre worked really well. I really liked Jacob, I could see the young him in the old him and he made me laugh. I really wanted everything to turn out right for him.
I’m not sure I can say anything else without spoilers so I will stop here, and just say read this book if you get the chance!