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Fiction featuring Care Experience

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The Life She Was Given

Ellen Marie Wiseman (4)


The Life She Was Given (2017) tells the story of 9-year-old Lily Blackwood who, in 1931 and after years of being confined to the attic at her home, Blackwood Manor, is sold to a circus. Lily has albinism and her mother is ashamed of her. For years, Lily works several acts—such as the Ice Princess from Another Planet and the Albino Medium—without pay for Barlow Brothers’ Circus.

Lily’s story is interwoven with that of 18-year-old Julia Blackwood, also of Blackwood Manor, who is left the property after the death of her mother in 1956. Like Lily, Julia can’t abide the ill treatment of animals and she rejects some of the old money-making practices at Blackwood Manor, such as having foals taken immediately from their mothers and fed elsewhere. Much of Julia’s story is devoted to what her parents had keep secret.

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