Cover Crush: The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

the-life-she-was-givenPaperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Kensington (July 25, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1617734497

ISBN-13: 978-1617734496

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, nineteen-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 rag-tag, 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’s 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 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.

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.


I love reading stories that involved a traveling circus in the Depression-era and stories in that take place in the 1950’s. Circus theme stories have always fascinated me. I think it’s because you find such complex characters and realities of life unlike your own. But are they really so unlike after all?

Then you have family secrets, tragedy, hope and joy. An extraordinary mix of emotions displayed. These are stories that impact us, change us and open our hearts to other people’s struggles in life. We can learn so much from these stories.

I believe it was the circus tent that first drew my attention to this book. Then it was the little girl in the yellow dress. So atmospheric! The title really is intriguing and makes you want to read about this girl’s life she was given.

I am really looking forward to reading this story. I have pre-ordered my copy!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

2 thoughts on “Cover Crush: The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

  1. Pingback: **Bookish Happenings** – Layered Pages

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