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Love in the Elephant Tent: How Running Away with the Circus Brought Me Home

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  51 reviews

Imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding crashing into Eat Pray Love on the set of Water for Elephants. This romantic, coming-of-age adventure is an intimate portrayal of young love, where Kathleen and Stefano learn to navigate their cultural differences, shed youthful concepts of romance, and form a life-long bond.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by ECW Press (first published May 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  224 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such a great, fun romantic coming of age circus adventure! Even though you pretty much know how it's all going to work out just from looking at the pictures and reading about the author (and interviews with Kathleen) I still couldn't stop reading and couldn't wait to find out how it all works out. I loved the international journey, the immersion in Italian culture and circus culture and even cooking. Kathleen and Stefano's true love for the animals doesn't whitewash the realities of the harsh li ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a young women, Kathleen Cremonesi, decided she did not want to end up like her mother, in a failed marriage and working very hard to make ends meet. So she left Oregon, and the wing of an old motel where her family lived, and head to California to go to college. That only lasted until she began following the band Grateful Dead and criss crossing the states. Eventually she worked for three months in a bank to earn enough money to buy an open ended ticket to Amsterdam. Once there she eventually ...more
Karen Germain
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Who hasn't dreamed of running away and joining the circus? Kathleen Cremonesi didn't just run away with the circus, but she did it in Europe. When I saw her memoir, Love in the Elephant Tent, on NetGalley, I just had to read it. Thank You to ECW Press for allowing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT - Set during the 1990's, Love in the Elephant Tent is the memoirs of Kathleen Cremonesi, an American, who spent her twenties traveling around Europe. Free-spirited Cremonesi fou
Arja Salafranca
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I simply loved Love in the Elephant Tent, Kathleen Cremonesi’s story of running away to join a circus in her early twenties. There she encounters the frenetic and energetic elephant keeper, the Italian Stefano, worlds away from her own culture, and she learns to ride an ostrich, stick on the glitter and perform for all she’s worth. This is an inside look at the world of the circus though, a glimpse behind the illusion, where animals are sometimes beaten and abused, and some of the most wrenching ...more
Linda Atwell
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a memoir fanatic—especially ones that include a true love story and show me a lifestyle I've never even dreamed for myself. In Love in the Elephant Tent, Kathleen does both of these. She leaves home to end up doing various circus jobs and falls in love with a handsome elephant trainer. What I liked most was her adventuresome spirit. When the circus offered her the opportunity to ride an ostrich or elephant or swim with sharks, she never said no. I've always felt I have gypsy blood in me and ...more
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir was a natural for me to select to read after reading the following books:
1. "Elephant Company; the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II" by Vicki Croke.
2. Water for elephants by Sara Gruen
3. Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfield
4. The Italians by John Hooper
WHY? Because this book incorporates a story of circuses, Italian Culture, and a love of elephants into a true surprisingly believable biography of a twenty-something gal who
Danuta Pfeiffer
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book has it all--the rhythm of the European countryside and quaint towns, the colorful characters juggling their lives, busking in the street, the smell and sounds of big circus animals, the fascinating glimpse behind the glitter of the Big Top and the uniquely dreary lives of the acrobats and dancing girls. And the romance. Cremonesi, a fiercely independent young American woman who swims in the shark tank (among other hilarious duties) falls for the dashing Italian Stefano, the mercurial a ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Everyone in my generation wanted to run away and join the circus, and I dreamed of being the girl on the elephant and being spun up in the air as I hung from a fat velvet rope. Kathleen Cremonesi's story is what we all want to tell our grandchildren about our lives with nothing left out. It is a love story and I adored it.

I read Love in the Elephant Tent How Running Away with the Circus Brought Me Home by Kathleen Cremonesi based on a lark, the title and the cover. But for everyone who dares to love... I think she wrote it for them.

4 stars

Happy Reading!
Shana M. Essig
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I havent enjoyed a book like i did this one in a very long time. This true story enveloped me into the circus world and these significant animals, the independence of a woman traveling the world, the romance of two very interesting people. I learned two awesome Italian recipes reading this book, I learned how to properly say Stefano (Steee-fano). I laughed and cried as I read this story of life, love and capturing everything your heart desires. Thank you, I will remember this story for a long ti ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
what a wonderful book!!! Wow. Truly great read, full of valuable lessons, thoughts, and wisdom that comes from living through all sorts of situations, in various conditions.
Makes a reader re-think some of their priorities, as Kathleen was getting to understand what was the most important thing for her.
Beautifully written, with everything that draws reader to it, holds him there and does not let go until... the book is finished :D
absolutely loved it!!!
Ginger Taylor
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sure wish I could have read this book in my 20's. My 21 year old daughter will appreciate Kathleen's desire for adventure, truth, purpose & free-spirited sense of self all the while learning how to love deeply. Kathleen is an old soul. Fortunate to know herself well enough to live in her integrity as she navigates each day with an open endedness that would send most of us into crippling fear. Brave young lady. ...more
Doranne Long
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic; even better read than Eat, Pray, Love, and Water for Elephants. Kathleen keeps us intrigued with as she shares her life, running away to Europe and into the circus, while delightfully educating us in the cultural clashes between a young American vegetarian, and her Italian elephant keeper novio. But deeper than that, she skillfully shares her gained wisdom, which is worth sharing with the world! I love the cover, the contents; it would make a great movie as well.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book lifted me up and left me totally inspired. I see true love exhibited in my family but this story truly made me cry with joy. The author followed her heart and never let herself be led away from what she knew was right for her and in the end it led her back to everything that mattered in the world. The fact that it involved elephants is just a bonus and really was why I sought out the book in the first place. What an accomplishment for a first book. True love. I am so jealous!
Mary Smith
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I never dreamed of running off to be in the circus and neither did Kathleen, but that is where she found herself; performing in an Italian circus! As a young woman, she traveled the US, following the grateful Dead. Then she went to Europe and traveled with a friend. They ended up working in a circus. Her friend didnt last long at all, but Kathleen stayed and found herself and "Love in the Elephant Tent"! It reads like a good fiction story, but it is all true!!! ...more
need some time on this. Will definitely post a full review soon though :)
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. I enjoyed her descriptions of free for living, coupled with the grounding of love. I feel that I traveled Europe with the author.
Kat Foley
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While circus life for animals is a bit sad, this memoir is an amazing summer beach read that leaves the reader feeling free and imagining the possibilities...
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Love in the Elephant Tent is one woman’s journey to find herself, search for a home, adventure, and love. Kathleen travels to Europe in order to find herself and adventure and ends up joining the circus. She very quickly fell in love with a man. I was intrigued to read more about Kathleen and her European circus adventure.
I thought Kathleen did a wonderful job describing the circus and all it entails. I did feel as though I could see everything and experience the circus, both the show and behin
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
There is always that one thing, either it is a trip or an event, that has a significant impact on your life. For Kathleen Cremonesi, that was running away. I don't normally read memoirs. But after reading this one, maybe I'll start reading them, especially they will be personal and relatable, just like this one. As you read, you embark on Kathleen's journey on not only finding love, but on finding your place in the world, a feeling most of us has felt at least once in our life.

With Kathleen's de
May 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time reading this because I found Kathleen and Stefano both so annoying. She comes across as spoiled and immature - wanting to tag along with the circus but unwilling to work, then complaining that her boyfriend doesn't have time for her. He's sexist and constantly asking why she won't cook for him. I didn't really see any growth throughout the book, they fought a lot but felt passionate about each other. The emotional, personal side of the story doesn't have much value for readers, ...more
David Ward
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Love in the Elephant Tent: How Running Away With the Circus Brought Me Home by Kathleen Cremonesi (ECW Press 2015) (Biography). Kathleen Cremonesi has written an old fashioned love story but cloaked it in a brand new costume. The author (like me) is an old Deadhead. She wound up in Amsterdam between tours and then literally ran away with the circus. She met the love of her life under the big top; this is her tale of travel and adventure. Many folks refer to going on the road with the Grateful De ...more
Susan McBeth
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ever wondered what it would be like to run away and join the circus? Well wonder no more, because Kathleen Cremonesi did just that, and her new memoir, Love In the Elephant Tent, will allow you to live vicariously so that you don't have to actually experience it yourself. Yet, her storytelling is so astute that you will feel like you were right alongside her as she explored this bohemian lifestyle and learned the same lesson that Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz, that there is no place like home. ...more
Marjie Wilson
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story

I went to school with Kathleen so this was that much more enjoyable, knowing the main character. I thought the story was amazing and captivating. It was wonderfully written, allowing me to have my own visual picture of the story throughout the book. I have to say I was disappointed when it was over. I could have kept on reading. I remember talking with Kathleen at our last class reunion and saying, "You really should write a book".
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this memoir of an adventurous American woman who joins up with a European circus and meets Stefano, the passionate elephant keeper. You will find yourself immersed in the richness of Italy, the circus, the food and the passion of young love. Kathleen tells her story the way she lives her life, with thoughtfulness and embracing all that is meaningful.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Learning about love in all it's forms and how to honor it. This is a beautiful book with an elusive setting filled with both unusual & common characters of different species. Kathleen's writing is vivid & breathtakingly honest and immediately pulled me by the heart onto the back of her wild & simply human journey. Lovely! ...more
Richard Becker
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book illustrates why I love quirky memoirs. The story is almost too good to be true. Funny and poignant stories vie for the readers attention. Kathleen and Stefano are very interesting. Their life among the animals, including elephants, giraffes and sharks are what drives the story along.
Elizabeth Chalcroft
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an fascinating and fast-moving book. The reader is able to experience Italy and the joy and heartache of circus travel. A wonderful story of a girl maturing to womanhood. A great addition to my bookshelf.
Pam Dane
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. I learned a lot about the workings of a circus and it was a coming of age story of two interesting people. I recommend it.
Page  Pennington
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like personal stories but this one captivated me and kept me up at night reading. She had a very differnt life and a great written voice. I really enjoyed it. ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2016
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Kathleen Cremonesi took a circuitous route to finding her place in the world. In lieu of college, she traveled America’s blue highways in a VW bus while following the Grateful Dead. When ready for a new adventure, she flew off to Europe, where she accidentally joined a circus, fell in love with the Italian elephant keeper, and became an ostrich-riding, shark-taming showgirl while traveling around ...more

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