Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Circus in Winter

It is nearly impossible to explain how deeply I enjoyed Cathy Day's The Circus in Winter, a collection of eleven interconnected stories tracing the history of the fictional circus town of Lima, Indiana.

I read it, cover to cover, in a single sitting on New Years Day.

In the late 1800's, as his beloved wife passes away, Wallace Porter abandons a safe and respectable existence to purchase a failing circus. For the next half century the circus calls Lima home, and in the half century after its collapse the town still echoes with the blessings and ghosts the circus has left upon the memory of the land.

There is pride and pain, loss and triumph for the characters we visit. There is the young family stranded in the attic of their home as flood water rises, an elephant drowning helplessly beneath their window. A century later their granddaughter chafes under the oppressive weight of her mother's judgement, and the accidental death of an elephant trainer at the turn of the century echoes across the decades.

Through it all we are kept spellbound.

It's fascinating to trace how the tiniest incident can magnify over time to change the course of someones life, someone who's grandparents had yet to be born when it occured.

The Circus in Winter is a powerful book by a writer with true talent. I obtained my copy in a local Dollar Tree, read it, loaned out my copy, and ran back to get a pristine version to place in my collection.

I encourage you to hit and pick up a copy. You won't be disappointed.


Donna said...

Well, I enjoyed Water For Elephants. Maybe I'll read this too.

Bridgett said...

Normally, I would say this doesn't sound like my cup of tea...but I loved Water For Elephants, so I'll give this a try too. Thanks for the recommendation.


gryphondear said...

I lived in Peru, Indiana, which bills itself as Circus City, the summer of 1971. The town had Circus Days right after school let out for summer. The kids would show the juggling, trapeze and highwire acts they had learned during the school year in Phys Ed.

If Lima, Indiana is based on Peru, that would be fitting. I'll have to get a copy and check it out.

;^) Jan the Gryphon