My husband and I had arrived in Park City to meet our daughter for a few days of skiing on her break from university. I am the only member of the family who doesn’t ski, but I’m happy to tag along to take in the mountain air and relax. Wandering the quaint shops in Park City, I came across Dolly’s Bookstore, a lovely little shop where I felt right at home browsing the shelves. My final selection ended up being Pam Jenoff’s book, The Orphan’s Tale.
There is something about the lives of traveling circus performers that captures my attention. Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants was an interesting read. Sarah’s Key (Tatiana de Rosnay) and The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) were stories about living in occupied France and Germany that I enjoyed. The Orphan Train (Christina Baker Kline) was a book I also read with great interest. The story of The Orphan’s Tale combined elements from each of these novels, in an easy to read, 342 page format. The story is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Noa and Astrid.
Although it is the setting of the novel that initially captures my interest, the strength of the friendship that develops is what keeps me reading. I am not a fast reader, it generally takes me weeks to get through a novel, as my primary reading time is before bed. I started this in February, and I was still reading it when Ashlyn wrote her last exam in April. The story had a number of twists in the plot that kept my attention, and it was easy for me to pick up and read a chapter at a time.
Family is a major theme throughout the book. The narrators go into depth about their past relationships with family. Both are searching for family, the families of their childhood, and the families they desire to create with their respective loves. And the strength of the circus family is also evident by the love the ringmaster has for his workers and performers, and their admiration for him.
Although the true orphan in the story is Theo, the Jewish baby that Noa rescues from the unguarded railcar, Astrid and Noa are orphans of sorts. Both separated from their families, but continually searching for connections to their past.
I would recommend this novel, especially if you enjoyed any of the other novels I mentioned above. I am also a fan of Kate Morton, and Booklist writes “Fans of Kate Morton and Alyson Richman should reach for Jenoff’s latest”. Have you read Alyson Richman? Would you recommend it?