Who hasn't dreamed of running away and joining the circus? Kathleen Cremonesi didn't just run away with the circus, but she did it in Europe. When I saw her memoir, Love in the Elephant Tent, on NetGalley, I just had to read it. Thank You to ECW Press for allowing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Set during the 1990's, Love in the Elephant Tent is the memoirs of Kathleen Cremonesi, an American, who spent her twenties traveling around Europe. Free-spirited Cremonesi found an opportunity to join a circus troupe in Italy, working as a dancing girl. While with the circus, she fell in love with Stefano, an elephant keeper. As her love for Stefano deepens, Cremonesi finds herself become immersed in circus life and Italian culture, causing her to lose herself in this temporary life-style.
LIKE - The best parts of Cremonesi's memoir are the ones that focus on her life in the circus. Beyond dancing, Cremonesi rode an ostrich, swam with sharks and befriended a shy giraffe. The animal lover in me, connected with the animal lovers in Cremonesi and Stefano. I felt for them in their dilemma of wanting to stay to care for these animals, even though they felt having the animals perform in the circus was wrong. This story is strong with ethical vs emotional content. Having both the circus and Europe as backdrops, fills this memoir with many layers. Cremonesi struggles as an outsider in this strange world. I loved getting a backstage view of this unique lifestyle.
DISLIKE - More than an adventure story, this is a love story. Cremonesi struggles with her love for Stefano, as their cultures and communication styles often clash. Although the love story is important, I found that it took up too much weight in this book. I was far less interested in Stefano, than I was in the world of the circus. I couldn't understand her love for him, until late in the book. It was distancing.
RECOMMEND - Yes. Love in the Elephant Tent is for anyone with wanderlust. If you've dreamed of running away with the circus, Cremonesi's story will speak to you. On a side note, if you love animals, especially elephants, a percentage of the proceeds from this book are going to elephant rescue groups. That's just cool!