The Life She Was Given

  • by Ellen Marie Wiseman
  • Narrated by Lori Gardner
  • 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets - beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s.
On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn't allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She's never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it's for Lilly's own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time - and sold to the circus sideshow.
More than two decades later, 19-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents' estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.
At first The Barlow Brothers' Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this ragtag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus' biggest attraction...until tragedy and cruelty collide.
It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly's fate and her family's shocking betrayal and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last. Moving between Julia's and Lilly's stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Another gripping story

This is a sad but gripping story about a little girl who is sold to a circus by her cruel vicious mother and the life she lead there. Nine-year-old Lily is taken from her attic room where she has been held prissoner by her parents and sold to the circus because she's a "monstor" according to her mother. Lily was born with albinism in the 1920s. In the circus, she's put in the "freak" show as one of the star attractions. She suffers horrible abuse but has great strength of character and survives in spite of it all. She befriends Pepper, an elephant and her handler Cole, whom she later marries. Lily performs with Pepper in the big top until tragedy occurrs, and she's forced out of the circus life she's come to love.

This is also the story of Julia Blackwood, who runs away from the manor on the day her father dies. Living a hard life on the streets, she's tracked down by a private investigator hired by her mother's attorney. She's given a letter informing her of her mother's death, and Julia is the new owner of Blackwood Manor. On her return, she discovers her father's old journal where she reads about the sister she never knew she had. Eventually Julia learns the truth and that things are not always as they seem. The story of her past is not what she believes it to be. She must come to grips with this and create a new life for herself where she will find love and acceptance. This is a story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
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- Randi shelton

If you're sensitive to animal cruelty don't listen

I suppose if this author wanted me to feel something, the goal was achieved. The book is nothing but heartbreak after brutal heartbreak.

At the end they try to smooth it over with flowers and foals but it's not successful. A good book is one that you can read over and over again. This is a book that makes you want to throw your phone at the wall.

I would not recommend this to any one.
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- Emily

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-25-2017
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.