One of the most fascinating parts of the book was reading the “Author’s Notes,” which comprised the last few pages. In these, Gruen details how she initially came to be fascinated with the concept of old-time circus life, her research for the book, and some of the “real life” circus stories that she expertly incorporated into the novel. Fittingly, each of the book’s 24 chapters begins with a vintage circus photograph, which together provide a colorful tapestry of the emotions, fashions, settings, personalities, and day-to-day activities of a circus troupe in the early 1900’s.
And per usual, I will end with my favorite line from the book. It is as follows: Lucinda’s death leaves us with a serious deficiency in the freak lineup. And it must be filled—all the big shows have fat ladies, and therefore so must we” (pg. 205).