From Publishers Weekly
Lewis Tully, the proud, resilient protagonist of Raleigh's rollicking, warmhearted seventh novel, ekes out a living managing a circus in Oklahoma circa 1919, even though his Blue Moon Circus and Menagerie is prone to hardships devastating enough to shut down show after show. A catastrophic flood is the latest disaster, forcing Tully to retire permanently. Fast-forward to 1926, when Tully is being tried in court for gambling at a speakeasy. The judge (a family friend) suspends his jail sentence with the stipulation that Lewis return to circus life for one more try. With confidence that mounts as the story gains momentum, Tully manages to round up most of his original group of performers, including an aging but agile posse of clowns, a pack of feisty animal acts, a terrifyingly unique snake charmer, a red-haired ape, and mind reader Harley Fitzroy, "the greatest magician there ever was." Along for the ride is nine-year-old Charlie, a new arrival in Tully's life since Tully's sister Alma can no longer care for the boy. Despite the threats of a rival circus owner, vindictive Hector Blaney, and the memory of past failures, Lewis bravely takes his show on the road. Dozens of successful performances across the Western states buoy his spirits, but then Hector Blaney's henchmen try to sabotage the campground. It is another natural disaster, however, that delivers the final blow to Lewis's circus career. As dramatic and engaging as a high-wire act, the novel combines honest storytelling with down-home wit. There's plenty of smartly written, feel-good fun under this big top.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Although he is a circus man through and through, Lewis Tully has not been in the business since he was wiped out by a flood in 1919. When a poker game generates a fair amount of cash, he decides to give it one more go. From across the country, he summons veteran performers to create a small but special circus with unique acts, including an ancient magician, a lonely giant, and an ailing clown, not to mention an outgoing red gorilla and a bellicose camel. Perhaps his most difficult task, though, is to take care of a nine-year-old orphan put in his care. Lewis then sets off to thrill the inhabitants of small western towns, many of whom have never seen a circus. This is a heartwarming, often humorous story filled with interesting circus lore as well as deeper themes about the value of human connection, especially as life winds down. Raleigh (In the Castle of the Flynns
, 2002) knows how to tell an engaging story while never losing sight of the humanity of his characters. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved