I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this novel. "The Nightingale meets Water for Elephants in this powerful novel of friendship and sacrifice, set in a traveling circus during World War II, by international bestselling author Pam Jenoff." First of all, I thought The Nightingale was just okay and I didn't like WfE at all, but except for one novel about two sisters, Pam Jenoff's novels have been winners for me. And that is somewhat funny. In The Winter Guest, Jenoff wrote of two biological sisters who didn't get along well. In this novel, we meet two women who are not sisters, who only know each other not even a year, yet are willing to sacrifice everything for each other. It's the sisterhood of choice...
And it was thoroughly engrossing. I loved it. I loved meeting two strong-minded women determined to fight the Nazis in what little ways they can. Astrid, a Jew, chooses to hide in plain sight, on the trapeze! Right in front of their faces.. That's sticking it to them! Noa fights back in a not-so-in-your-face-way by rescuing a Jewish baby. In a time of war and terror, each woman finds love and lets their formerly-hurt selves love again.
The circus was interesting too. It didn't go crazy with details. I didn't learn about elephants and tigers, or even about the freak show, but I did learn about flying acrobats, the traveling town to town, the way they pitched the big top. (I'd love to see that)
I enjoyed the friendship and bond the girls developed. Even though distrust reared its ugly head at times, they bonded and looked out for each other and the rest of the circus.
What I didn't like was the sudden romance with Luc. It came abruptly and too fast to be believable. I also didn't like that in the last quarter, it's like both girls lose their blooming minds. Noa loses her marbles over Luc and Astrid loses it over Peter. Astrid and Peter, I could understand, but screaming that you're a Jew and letting yourself be kicked where it matters...really? What the heck is wrong with you? All of a sudden, two intelligent girls both lost their minds.
But the fact I got mad enough at them to scream and nearly throw the book shows how deeply I cared and that's the sign of good, engaging writing.
If you're tired of the traditional WWII tales...do check this one out.
I got this via Amazon Vine.