Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson by Ellen Baker (Bibliolifestyle Book Tour)


Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @marinerbooks for the review copy of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson by Ellen Baker.

Have you ever been to the circus? I remember watching live broadcasts of circuses as a child, but I have never actually been to a circus. I visited the Circus World Museum in Baraboo Wisconsin which had some live shows. That is the closest I have got!  If you have been to the circus, what is your favorite act?

Cecily Larson is a ninety-four-year-old woman and pillar of the community living in Itasca, Minnesota in 2015. After a fall, she finds herself bed bound and pondering her life. Should she tell her family the secret she has been keeping her entire life? As a four-year-old, Cecily was dropped off at an orphanage by her widowed mother who had a new boyfriend who did not want children.  At age seven, she was bought by a man for a circus act and traveled the Midwest as one of the stars of the show. When she falls for a new roustabout in the circus in her teens, her life is about to change forever. How will her hidden life impact her family and herself?

·       I could not put this book down. It was one that I just wanted to take time off work to finish reading.

·       This book was described as the Orphan Train meets Water for Elephants, both books I greatly enjoyed. I agree with this assessment.

·       I really liked how this was a family drama that goes through time.   There was an overall mystery of Cecily’s life and I wanted to know how it all worked out. There is a lot of loss, heartbreak, and love in this novel.

·       There are many different viewpoints over time. I liked this.  Cecily, her daughter, and granddaughter all have viewpoints. Cecily has a viewpoint both in the past and in 2015.  There is also a mysterious other viewpoint that comes in about halfway through the novel.  I figured it out right away but was not quite sure of the details until I read further into the story.

·       The main theme of this book was really about adoption, losing a child, being given away, babies being stolen, etc.

·       The story really made me think about how DNA results can really change people’s lives and understanding of their own history.

·       The story also made me really think about unwed mothers and how they were so badly treated in the past.

·       I loved learning about Cecily’s time at the circus and how she learned to become an expert horse rider. There was a lot of abuse and a dark side to the circus. I loved how her mentor Isabelle protected her, but I was not prepared for when she turned on her at the end.

·       I loved that the circus wintered in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, which is about forty minutes north of where I live.  The circus made many stops in and around Wisconsin in familiar locations that were fun to read about.

Favorite Quote: “Cecily felt the collapse like it was her own hope – a thing she’d been carrying all these years without even realizing the weight of it.”

Overall, The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson was a riveting family drama and historical fiction novel that focused on adoption.  I agree with the assessment that it is perfect for fans of The Orphan Train and Water for Elephants.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really good!!
    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge