An old man sits in a nursing home, watching himself deteriorate before his eyes, distant from his family, desperate to assert his dignity. As he does, we are treated to memories of his younger years, when he was a vet in a Depression-era circus. Both parts of the story are charming and inviting. The circus is filled with unsavory characters, including a money-hungry boss and a sadistic and psychotic animal trainer. It is also peppered with delightful--yet raw and real--characters, such as a dwarf, a good-hearted, crippled veteran, a beautiful and compassionate female performer, and a brilliant and mischievous elephant. It is captivating and suspenseful, colorful and invigorating. It is a glimpse into this fascinating time period without the bleakness associated with much depression-era literature.
This is my favorite read of the year so far--and the competition, for the most part, has been pretty tough. I highly recommend this book.
Challenges: TBR, Decades (1930's); States (IL)