This is another favorite book of mine so far in 2011!! I have been seeing the movie trailers on TV, so I thought I'd give the book a try! It was so good, I started reading it yesterday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it!
The book is about the main character, Jacob and his youth with the circus. In the beginning, we are introduced to 90, or 93, year old Jacob that is living in an "old age" home due to a broken hip. When going to lunch one day, he notices a circus has come to town and causing great excitement in the home. Jacob goes to his usual table for lunch and is greeted by a new patient that claims to have carried water for the elephants while working at a circus. Jacob is outraged by his out right lie and is immediately returned to his room. Jacob begins to flash back to when he was 23 years old.
It's during the Great Depression and Jacob is enrolled at Cornell University getting ready to take his final exam for a veterinary license when the dean pulls him out of class. The dean tells Jacob there has been a horrible accident and both of his parents are dead. Between his parents death and finding out they are broke because all of their money went to pay for his Ivy League education, Jacob takes off. He just starts running and doesn't stop until his feet cannot take it anymore. Jacob then realizes he is lost and happened to hear a train coming. He hops aboard the train to find out it is a circus train.
He makes friends with a guy on the train, Camel, and Camel is able to get him on working for the circus. The owner of the circus, Uncle Al, appoints Jacob as the official circus vet.
As soon as Jacob sees Marlena, the wife of the head animal trainer, August, he falls in love. August is a strange man and violent man. He is out right cruel to the animals and anyone that gets in his way, yet is he married to a beautiful and compassionate performer. Jacob is determined to have Marlena, but August stands in his way.
The book describes the horrid condition of the animals and their treatment while being apart of a circus. And, circus life in general for the workers and performers. It's just a really good book about how the circus was ran in the 1930's and the impact it had on peoples lives.