Monday, May 21, 2007

Beautiful Lies

Lisa Unger's debut novel, Beautiful Lies, takes the reader through a fast-paced thriller that looks at how timing and a moment's decision can bring a complete change to everything in one's life. The heroine, Ridley Jones, has had a perfect life, with only a few imperfections in her loving family. A chance good deed, caught on film by a photographer, brings her a moment in the spotlight. That causes someone from a past she didn't know about to contact her and insist that the perfect life she thinks she's leading is nothing but a lie.

Suddenly nothing is as it seems, and everything she knows of her family is under suspicion. Unraveling the truth causes her to question everything she has ever known, and everyone she turns to seems to have their own lies and hidden agendas. Not knowing who to trust or believe, each revelation brings about it's own consequences and dangers. The twists and turns don't end until the final page, and there are some questions that may never have answers.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The circus is a source of fascination for young and old. Did you ever wonder about the people who work in the circus? In Water for Elephants Gruen tells the story of Jacob Jankowski a man who just happened to land on the train of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a 1930s traveling circus fighting to stay solvent during the Great Depression. Jacob was about to take his final exams from Cornell school of veterinary medicine when his parents died in an auto accident. His plans to join his father in the practice of veterinary medicine were clearly not going to happen. But that is only the start of his tale. His father was deeply in debt, having mortgaged the house to put Jacob through school. There was nothing left; no one had paid his dad with anything but chickens and such since the start of the depression. Too dazed to write his exams, Jacob walks away from the school and lands on the train carrying the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

A bittersweet statement on growing old in America, this novel tells Jacob’s story from his perspective as a resident of a nursing home. Jacob remembers Marlena the lovely but married star of the show. Her husband, August, is dashing but vicious and trains (and often beats) the animals. Among other characters are Kinko the dwarf clown, Rosie the elephant who only seems un-trainable, and Camel a circus worker who suffers from “Jake Leg” (an affliction that affected tens of thousands of people who drank Jamaican ginger extract during Prohibition, not knowing it could cause paralysis).

The book is full of authentic details about life during the depression and about circus life. Wonderfully written, a pleasure to read I highly recommend this to all lovers of good story.