The reader is thrown into the story with a striking first chapter set in 1931, the Depression era at Blackwood Manor in rural America. The Circus has come ‘to town’ but Lilly Blackwood can only watch from her small barred window of the attic where her parents keep her locked up and away from their neighbours. Lilly has never been outside, never smelt fresh cut grass, never felt the sun on her skin, and all because her mother has told her she is an ‘abomination’ and would scare their neighbours and anyone who saw her. Lilly’s only company is her beloved cat Abby whom she dotes on and curls up with every night.
Ellen Marie Wiseman has written a powerful story, with vivid colours, smells and sounds that traverse the Depression era of the 1930s and the innovation and liberation of the 1950s. Feeling the emotions of Lilly and Julie our story’s dual protagonists, the reader rides the roller coaster of love, loss, friendship, family and beauty. These two characters are perfectly captured in their dialogue and thoughts, and the reader is enraptured and held captive by their journeys – the mystery of how they intertwine through old photos and circus posters, the emergence of a will and the revelation of the past for Julia when the door to the attic at Blackwood Manor is finally found.
I wanted to avoid spoilers, but this one will most certainly be a hit. My review can also be found at Goodreads.
The kindle edition and paperback are available from 25th July 2017 at Amazon. I received my free copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another book by the same author is also available – The Plum Tree.
Books that the author relied upon during the writing of her book:
American Sideshow by Marc Hartzman
Shocked and Amazed: On & Off the Midway by James Taylor
Step Right This Way: The Photographs of Edward J. Kelty
Carney Folk: The World’s Werdest Sideshow Acts by Francine Hornberger