Richmond County Public Library

Hoopla Book Club Discussion: “The Life She Was Given” by Ellen Marie Wiseman

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December 7, 2020 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Zoom meeting
Meeting link:
Molly Robinson

Everyone is welcome to join our monthly RCC/Richmond County Public Library Hoopla Book Club Discussions.

Our title for discussion on December 7th is The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman.
Meeting link: 

This book is available free on Hoopla with no waiting lists as either an e-book and an audio book at 

To create a FREE Hoopla account, all you need is a Richmond County Public Library card number.

Call 804-333-6710 with questions.

Book Summary:

On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time–and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

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