I’ve got a book hangover, folks.
Thanks to Joanne Bischof and Charlie Lionheart. And Holland. And Ella. And Regina.
This post was supposed to be about my latest media faves: online videos, books, movies, songs, etc. Then this lion tamer guy named Charlie Lionheart sort of took over my life for a week…
This may turn out to be a short review for me, because I don’t want to give away too much. To quote Jane Austen’s Mr. Knightly, if I loved this book less, I might be able to talk about it more. I will say I can count on one hand the novels that have resonated as deeply with me as this one.
The Setting and Characters
The story unfolds in a flavorful adventure, rich with wonder and delight and grounded with poignancy. From elephants to aerialists, popcorn, caramel, gypsies holding dances in open fields, a calliope, and of course the lions, Joanne skillfully pulls out all stops to awaken the reader to the charm of Victorian circus life. A memorable thrill in itself. Even more so, these characters will live on in my heart for a long, long time to come. Oh, so talented half-gypsy Charlie and his debonaire-yet-humble skill with his kingly lion brothers. Ella and her love for sweet little Holland. The treachery that lurks within jolly, striped circus tents.
Nearing the end of the book, I read at a maddeningly slow pace, because I knew I would have to say goodbye to these characters, and I ached to think of my time with them ending.
The Love Story
I must mention the romance. The hero’s gentle pursuit of the heroine is utterly beautiful. I don’t have the words…which is a strange place to be for me as a writer. If I tried hard to describe their relationship, I’d say Charlie’s wooing of Ella starts long before he meets her, perhaps when the lion tamer decides he will no longer indulge in fleeting infatuations with his many admirers under the big top, but save all his wooing and affection for one woman, whom he prays he will recognize when the day comes. While Charlie is careful of his behavior and interactions with all women, there is a reverence coupled with vulnerability in his dealings with Ella. Though enigmatic, proud, passionate, and quite famous, this sought-after circus performer carries deep scars and at times questions his worth—still, he lives his life in a pattern of sacrifice for each friend, family member, and person he loves. This all works together in forming a life that blesses Ella and their relationship together because of Charlie’s own personal choices.
Joanne has woven into The Lady and the Lionheart an emotional tapestry that builds on every page. Her signature, I think. Every character brings a special nuance to the journey you’ll still be walking inside your heart long after the last leaf is turned. The spiritual application still brings tears to my eyes when I think of my Savior and all He has born…and still bears for me.
Read this story for yourself. If you don’t read another novel this year…or the next five years, read this one.
Want to find out more about the book? Or nurse your own book-hangover if you’ve already read the story? Check out Joanne’s Pinterest board for the book!
Also, indulge in Annie Moses' "Blush," a sweet song about chivalrous things lost and longed for. The chorus repeated itself constantly in my mind after reading The Lady and the Lionheart and still hasn’t left my head altogether. :) You can find the lyrics here.
Have you heard of this novel before or is this your first glimpse?
Do you know the symbolism of the top hat on the cover?
What novel(s) have you read that you will never forget?