I'm sure that even if you are not a big reader, you have heard of at least the film version of this book. I had been wanting to read the novel since the film came out in theaters but hadn't gotten around to it until just a couple of days ago.
I will honestly say that the book is ranked up with some of my favorite novels. I was so engrossed throughout the entire novel and from the very beginning until I finished the book, my nose was buried in it nonstop. Sara Gruen did a wonderful job with the book and it is plaintively obvious that she did her research regarding the circus during the years of the depression.
The book gives a detailed look at the corrupt aspects of circus life during the depression. It deals with several characters that play a main role in the circus including performers, back-stage workers, ring leader, and a Cornell drop-out turned veterinarian. It is beautifully crafted to display not only the horrors that both animals and humans faced in circus life but the extravagances and beauty of love that can be found in the most unlikely times and places.
I will say that if you're like me and read the book before watching the movie, beware. The movie is great but can lead to some confusion as one primary character from the book is cut out. It took me a while to figure out what they did but August and Uncle Al are combined into one devil of a character!
If you're wanting a quick and wonderful read, pick up this book!