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The Life She Was Given Paperback – July 25, 2017
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"Wiseman alternates between 1930s and 1950s New York State in this emotional tale of one young girl's tragedy and another's coming of age. Wiseman has created two equally enticing story lines that gradually reveal the commonalities between them. This well-crafted novel provides rewards throughout."--Publisher's Weekly
"Ellen Marie Wiseman gathers potent Gothic elements in The Life She was Given to examine the impact of child abuse across generations. A sumptuous plot balances horror and tenderness to reveal lesser-known facets of history...The Life She was Given is a vibrant maze of desires. The sharp divide between expectations and painful truths, mothers and daughters, past and present, culminate in a sensational finale." - ForeWord Reviews
"A powerful, poignant novel." - In Touch, Grade A
"A novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope." - Bookbub
"Ellen Marie Wiseman is noted for capturing little known pockets of American life and depicting them with heart and insight; her latest novel may be her most harrowing yet...The author's in-depth knowledge of traveling circuses and "freak shows" of the era is evident. The novel seamlessly blends mystery and history with compelling and well-researched details. The two women in the book, though separated by time, demonstrate resilience in the face of despair. Thematic elements include religious extremism; the many forms of love; and strength under adverse circumstances." - The Historical Novels Review
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I don't think I'll ever get over the cruel visual of a brutal killing of the elephant. If this would upset you, then avoid this book!!!
The author describes two young girls who lived at Blackwood Manor at different times.In 1931, Lilly was a young girl locked up in her bedroom in the attic for the difference in her appearance. Lilly winds up being part of the Circus. During these depressive times, there were rules to follow and consequences. Lilly has a way of bonding with animals. It's almost like she is an "Animal Whisperer". The crowds can be dangerous, and the managers of the Circus were ruthless. There was much cruelty and no compassion.
Around twenty years later we meet Julia who ran away from her parents at Blackwood Manor. Her parents didn't provide love and emotional support. Julia is almost homeless, when a man looking for her informs her that she has inherited Blackwood Manor. Both of her parents have died, and have left Julia the mansion, the horse farm, and a tremendous amount of money. Julia finds that she has a special way relating and working with the horses. She discovers that her parents had many secrets.
The author describes some of the characters as mean, evil, and unlikeable Most of the characters are complex and complicated. I like the way the author describes the themes of family and friends, betrayal and secrets, love and hope.
I want to thank Kensington Publishing, Edelweiss and Ellen Marie Wiseman for the Advanced Reading Copy of "The Life She Was Given" by Ellen Marie Wiseman for my honest review.
I highly recommend this novel as an amazingly well written and descriptive, intriguing novel. Be warned, have tissues on hand.
Top international reviews
Mary Lou Glazier, Langley BC Canada