The Life She Was Given
Fiction / Paperback / 304 pages
Part of the inspiration for THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN came from my love of the book, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, and my fascination with heartrending stories about people hiding their "less than perfect" children i
n a back bedroom.
The other part stemmed from touching on a freak show in my third novel, COAL RIVER, and my desire to explore that world further. That's how I came up with the idea
of a young girl kept in a secret attic bedroom all her life, until her mother sells her to a circus sideshow. The story also follows a young woman who, two decades later, inherits the family horse farm and discovers that
attic room and the dark histor
y hidden there.
Beginning in the lurid, curtained world of a 1930's traveling circus freak show and coming full circle in the transformati
ve 1950's, THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN explores the devastating power of family secrets. If you loved WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and ORPHAN TRAIN, I think you'll enjoy this story.
I hope so anyway!
Thanks so much,
bout The Life She Was Given
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.
of The Life She Was Given
"Switching back and forth in time and narration from Lilly to Julia, Wiseman has crafted a can't-put-it-down novel of family secrets involving two young girls who only seek to be loved. Perfect for book clubs and readers who admired Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants."
- Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"The Life She was Given is a vibrant maze of desires. The sharp divide between expectations and painful truths, mothers and daughters, past and present, culminate in a sensational finale."
- ForeWord Reviews
Book Club Menu ideas from Ellen Wiseman
"Since half of the book is set in a circus, the first things that come to mind are corn dogs, popcorn, peanuts in the shell, candy apples, cotton candy, and funnel cakes. Maybe ice cream too!"
Invite the Author to Your Book Club: Ellen Wiseman is
available to speak to book clubs by phone or can join your group in person (within 50 miles of Watertown, New York).