Sep 16, 07
Read in September, 2007
This is a very good example of why one should have no expectations when going into a book. I wanted this book to be great. I thought this book was going to be great. A depression era traveling circus and all that entails? Awesome! The author’s voice being likened to Mr. Irving? Awesome! The fact that damn near everyone LOVED it? Promising! The only other circus book I’ve read was GEEK LOVE, and holy shit. Awesome! All of this lead me to believe that I was about to be blown away.
But, it wasn’t awesome. And I hated it because it wasn’t. Normally, I probably would have just thought, meh- good, but not great. But it wouldn’t have evoked such distaste had I not expected it to be brilliant.
Given the concept, there was so much room for fantastical wonderfulness that this story lacks entirely. All the bits that almost got there- the mischievousness of the elephant that didn’t understand English, the moonshine paralysis, a hippo in formaldehyde, murdering elephants- weren’t the authors ideas, but anecdotes from her research. How fucking dull.
It would have been a million more times gratifying had it been written as non-fiction, because the details were good. And even interesting. But the fiction part… basically, is an unimaginative love story with boring, cliché characters that I couldn’t stand and a Hollywood ending.