The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson
by Ellen Baker
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Pub Date 20 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 16 Apr 2024
“A family secret, a DNA test, a journey as rich and colorful as the early-day circus itself. Through Cecily Larson’s hidden life, Ellen Baker tenderly examines personal determination, lost love, family ties, and our innate need to discover our own truth.” — Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours and Before and After
Orphan Train meets Before We Were Yours meets Water for Elephants in this compelling multigenerational novel of survival, love, and the families we make.
In 1924, four-year-old Cecily Larson’s mother reluctantly drops her off at an orphanage in Chicago, promising to be back once she’s made enough money to support both Cecily and herself. But she never returns, and shortly after high-spirited Cecily turns seven, she is sold to a traveling circus to perform as the “little sister” to glamorous bareback rider Isabelle DuMonde. With Isabelle and the rest of the circus, Cecily finally feels she’s found the family she craves. But as the years go by, the cracks in her little world begin to show. And when teenage Cecily meets and falls in love with a young roustabout named Lucky, she finds her life thrown onto an entirely unexpected—and dangerous—course.
In 2015, Cecily is now 94 and living a quiet life in Minnesota, with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson. But when her family decides to surprise her with an at-home DNA test, the unexpected results not only bring to light the tragic love story that Cecily has kept hidden for decades but also throw into question everything about the family she’s raised and claimed as her own for nearly seventy years. Cecily and everyone in her life must now decide who they really are and what family—and forgiveness—really mean.
Sweeping through a long period of contemporary history, The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson is an immersive, compelling, and entertaining family drama centered around one remarkable woman and her determination to survive.