Most of you are probably familiar with Sara Gruen’s break-out novel Water for Elephants. It was written in 2006 and turned into a movie in 2011. But have you read any of the other circus books we have in our adult fiction collection? Here’s a quick summary of six circus-related novels, plus one circus memoir.
When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it’s the Depression, when someone with a vet’s skills can attach himself to a circus if he’s lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August. – from Library Journal
- When the elephant star of a traveling circus goes missing along with her trainer, canine detective Chet and his human partner, Bernie Little, follow the missing elephant’s scent out into the desert, where some dangerous people would prefer that Chet and Bernie disappear. – from the publisher
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. – from the publisher
This is Book 4 in the Hilda Johansson series by Hoosier author Jeanne Dams.
The time is 1903; the circus is in town (South Bend, Indiana); and Fritz, a friend of Hilda’s younger brother, decides he wants to join up and become a trapeze artist. Then the real trapeze artists, the Stupendous Shaws, disappear. So does Fritz, who eventually turns up hiding in a barn, brutally beaten and claiming that he was abused. To make matters even more confusing, Hilda’s brother, Erik, also vanishes. – from Booklist
Did you know that many traveling circuses used to winter over in Indiana. Cathy Day’s book The Circus in Winter is a series of interconnected short stories about the performers in one of those circuses.
Drawing on observations made during her own childhood in Peru, Indiana, home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, Day strips away the grease paint and costumes of clowns, elephant trainers, and steel-nerved acrobats to reveal lives as messy as any found in mainstream America. Meticulously researched and graced with a dozen lovely black-and-white historical circus photographs, this is a fun way to explore a slice of Indiana history.
– from Library Journal
The Ladies of the Secret Circus shares some of the fantasy aspects of The Night Circus.
Lara Barnes grew up hearing tales of her family’s long-retired circus, and its allure never faded away for her as an adult. After her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day, she is understandably distraught, especially when it seems her mother knows more about the situation than she lets on. As Lara unravels the mystery with the town’s chief of police, she discovers more about her family’s past, including a different, secret circus that remains legendary decades after its last performance. This is recommended for readers who don’t mind genre-bending or who enjoy time-slipping fiction.
– from Booklist
Finally, a memoir: Cremonesi never set out to join the circus, yet this young woman from Oregon ends up swimming with sharks and riding an ostrich with one of Italy’s most famous circuses, Circo Moira Orfei. Cremonesi’s memoir is saturated with descriptive language and emotion, as she tells the story of how, at 23, she becomes a dancing girl in a traveling circus and falls in love with Stefano, the passionate Italian elefanti caretaker. – from Booklist