The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Life She Was GivenAt the beginning of the month I asked for help in choosing some books to read just for the joy of reading.  This is one of the two picked for the month of January.  (And I am thrilled that I actually got to it – another 2018 goal on its way!!!!)

This story jumps between two women – Lilly in the 1930’s and Julia in the mid 1950’s.  The best description of the book is the blurb – so I have copied it at the end of this blog.

This book was a roller coaster of emotions for me.  I felt extreme sadness, anger and hope while reading it.  At one point I had to put it aside for a few hours as I waited for my emotions to get ready to finish the book.  The author was able to put the reader into the scene and that just made the angst of the characters even more intense.  This book was on several reading lists for last summer and I can see why but I would have not enjoyed reading it on vacation – crying at the beach would have been too much.  Bottom line – I enjoyed it and it was a very good book as the story pulled me in and the author is a wonderful writer.

If you would like to read this book – please leave a comment and on January 31 I will do an old fashioned draw names out of a hat for a winner to mail the book to.(yes it’s a real paperback!!!)


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.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

Click Here to Buy The Life She Was Given on Amazon

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