This book was a lovely surprise because it had been one of those books I bought on whim when I saw it on sale, then left it sitting on the shelf for a couple of years because I was unsure if I really did want to read it after all. But I'm really glad I finally got around to reading it because it was so much better than I expected. I just love it when this happens.
This is a delightful book which focuses less on the actual circus than I had expected and much more on the characters, both human and animal. The story is told in flashbacks by the narrator Jacob and I just loved him, young and old. Old Jacob's relationship with Rosemary (an employee at the nursing home) and young Jacob's relationships with Walter (the dwarf), Camel (an elderly circus hand) and Rosie (the elephant) were warmly human, poignant and the best part of the book. For me the romance came second, Rosie was the real heroine.
One of the main reasons I was dubious about this book was that I'm not a great fan of circuses or circus culture. They have an abysmal record when it come to cruelty towards animals and I expected the worst. Having said that, yes, there is some animal cruelty included in the story but not as much or as 'in your face' as it could've been, and it was an essential part of the story that couldn't possibly have been left out.
My one real gripe with this book was the prologue which in my opinion should've been edited out. It would've been a much better story without it. By the end I felt like I had been deliberately mislead, and I hate it when authors do that.
Another great buddy read with Anna :-).