Blue Moon Circus

( 2 )

Overview

"An absolute charmer."--Library Journal Starred Review

"Simply put, this is a ripsnorting good historical yarn full of circus lore, so smartly told by an expert storyteller that it's the kind of book truly deserving that overused term 'page-turner.'"--Chicago Sun-Times

"With no safety net, Raleigh takes a spectacular highwire route...making it all look easy in this captivating tale of a decent man in a very hard world. Beguiling, wise and wonderful."--Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"A heartwarming, often humorous story filled with interesting

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The Blue Moon Circus: A Novel

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Overview

"An absolute charmer."--Library Journal Starred Review

"Simply put, this is a ripsnorting good historical yarn full of circus lore, so smartly told by an expert storyteller that it's the kind of book truly deserving that overused term 'page-turner.'"--Chicago Sun-Times

"With no safety net, Raleigh takes a spectacular highwire route...making it all look easy in this captivating tale of a decent man in a very hard world. Beguiling, wise and wonderful."--Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"A heartwarming, often humorous story filled with interesting circus lore as well as deeper themes about the value of human connection, especially as life winds down."--Booklist

"Rollicking, warmhearted...As dramatic and engaging as a high-wire act, the novel combines honest story-telling with down-home wit. There's plenty of smartly written, feel-good fun under this big top."
--Publishers Weekly

For the boy, it was the first real chance for a future. For the man, it was one last chance to triumph over his past. Opportunities like these happen only once in a Blue Moon.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lewis Tully, the proud, resilient protagonist of Raleigh's rollicking, warmhearted seventh novel, ekes out a living managing a circus in Oklahoma circa 1919, even though his Blue Moon Circus and Menagerie is prone to hardships devastating enough to shut down show after show. A catastrophic flood is the latest disaster, forcing Tully to retire permanently. Fast-forward to 1926, when Tully is being tried in court for gambling at a speakeasy. The judge (a family friend) suspends his jail sentence with the stipulation that Lewis return to circus life for one more try. With confidence that mounts as the story gains momentum, Tully manages to round up most of his original group of performers, including an aging but agile posse of clowns, a pack of feisty animal acts, a terrifyingly unique snake charmer, a red-haired ape, and mind reader Harley Fitzroy, "the greatest magician there ever was." Along for the ride is nine-year-old Charlie, a new arrival in Tully's life since Tully's sister Alma can no longer care for the boy. Despite the threats of a rival circus owner, vindictive Hector Blaney, and the memory of past failures, Lewis bravely takes his show on the road. Dozens of successful performances across the Western states buoy his spirits, but then Hector Blaney's henchmen try to sabotage the campground. It is another natural disaster, however, that delivers the final blow to Lewis's circus career. As dramatic and engaging as a high-wire act, the novel combines honest storytelling with down-home wit. There's plenty of smartly written, feel-good fun under this big top. (Apr.) Forecast: This easy-to-like novel, issued in a 30,000 first printing, is a good hand-selling prospect for booksellers, who can recommend it to fans of Carter Beats the Devil and other show-business yarns. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This story of a circus man in the Old West is really about pursuing a dream in the face of adversity. A flood that wipes out his show in Wyoming in 1919 puts an end to Lewis Tully's circus business-that is, until 1926 when after a run-in with the law and a nudge from a judge, Lewis, now 52, begins assembling his Blue Moon Circus. At the same time, he reluctantly becomes responsible for nine-year-old Charlie Barth, an orphan whose childhood reminds Lewis of his own. The diverse (and aging) circus company, including Mexican aerialists, Chinese and Russian animal trainers, an Indian snake charmer, and Lewis's former sweetheart, builds a big top, polishes acts, and heads west and north from Oklahoma. Despite competition from other traveling circuses, sabotage from Lewis's longtime enemy Hector Blaney, and the vagaries of the weather, the Blue Moon Circus makes it to Montana, the farthest west Lewis has taken his show. Full of remarkably engaging characters and fascinating circus lore, this warm, slyly humorous novel from the author of In the Castle of the Flynns is highly recommended for all reading tastes and all fiction collections. An absolute charmer.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bottom-tier circus enchants the big, empty West in the last days before mass entertainment. With no safety net, Raleigh (In The Castles of the Flynns, 2002, etc.) takes a spectacular highwire route over the dangerous bogs of metaphor and sentiment, making it all look easy in this captivating tale of a decent man in a very hard world. Lewis Tully, orphaned young, flees his last adoptive home, taking with him fellow orphan M.J. Shelby. The refuge the two find is the circus, and they never leave that welcoming home. Neither do they ever get rich or make it to the big time—the manic prosperity of the 1920s hasn’t reached the agrarian West where Tully and Shelby ply their trade. And their luck has been bad. Tully’s last little circus was flooded out years ago, forcing them to fill in with horse-training work. But Tully, entering his 50s, is ready for a last try with his own Blue Moon Circus. From his scruffy camp in Oklahoma he puts out a call to the best acts he ever worked with, many now retired. And they come—because they love the life, because they’re proud of their work, and because Lewis Tully is a wonderfully decent man in the shaky world of circus entertainment. That’s also why Tully’s sister Alma sends him nine-year-old Charlie, another orphan who, started on a bad track, needs a man to show him the way. The way will be tough. Tully’s got nothing but some beat-up trucks, a patchwork tent, and circus wagons from the last century. And there are two competing circuses, one good, one nasty, on the same poor, small-town circuit. But Tully’s stars—ancient magician, whacked-out snake charmer, beautiful bareback rider, Russians fleeing the Bolsheviks, Tully’s long-lost loveHelen—come through again and again, until they reach the town of Tully’s dreams. Beguiling, wise, and wonderful. First printing of 30,000. Agent: Jane Jordan Browne Multimedia Product Development
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402202384
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 354
  • Sales rank: 1,053,090
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Raleigh teaches writing, literature, and history at Truman College in Chicago, where he has taught for twenty-two years. He also teaches fiction workshops at the Newberry Library. He is the author of six previous novels, most recently In the Castle of the Flynns, and has received four Illinois Arts Council grants for fiction. He lives in Chicago with his family.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 22, 2014

    I had read "In the Castle of the Flynns" and was so de

    I had read "In the Castle of the Flynns" and was so deeply moved by that story that I wanted to get my hands on anything else written by Michael Raleigh. I read one of his novels from his private detective series, which I enjoyed, but wanted to get another one of his standalone novels. Although I don't think it holds a candle to In the Castle of the Flynns, Blue Moon Circus is another wonderful story, and well worth reading. It has a similar theme as the first book---a young boy is orphaned at an early age and although there are some signs that the  trauma of losing that security of his family  might send him down a bad path, that route is intervened by the love and support of good and decent people in the boy's life. These people are neither rich nor sophisticated, and thoroughly flawed, but their basic decency as human beings ends up being what it takes to get the boy on the right path. You are left feeling that everything is going to be okay, long after the story is over. Raleigh includes another theme in both books where the main adult male character is somewhat torn between a fancier, more sexy exciting woman or one who is more plain but steady. He ends up with the more steady woman, the suggestion that it was the better choice all along. A nice story, worth reading. 

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    very highyly recommended!

    This is a great story of circus life and how things are in the real world during hard times of the Great Depression - there is laughter and sorrow, magic, and the trials of growing up as an orphan, surrounded by interesting people who give a lonely boy hope and promise.

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